Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Meditation
Leonid Kogan, violin
Constantin Silvestri, conductor
Paris Conservatoire Orchestra
Price range: $42-5250, mean $1087 on popsike
Comments: This is my favorite analog recording of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. I have not found another performance as captivating from start to finish as this one, and that includes Heifetz on RCA, Szeryng on RCA, Oistrakh on US Columbia, Ferras on EMI, and Francescatti on US Columbia.
The star here is Leonid Kogan. He plays with such a robust and beautiful tone, and he is given the recording spotlight. Intonation is pretty much perfect, and Kogan nails all the high notes with razor precision. I almost got the impression while listening to this recording that he was standing a number of feet in front of the orchestra. Either that or he had a separate mike just on him. You can definitely hear him as if he is playing right before you. The orchestra sounds just a little recessed but nevertheless provides an excellent, dynamic accompaniment. Constantin Silvestri knows just when to turn up the heat with the PCO, and I found this to be one of the best all around orchestral performances of the Tchaikovsky Concerto. There is not a dull moment from the PCO. The final movement has the energy and excitement of a car chase from the Bourne Identity, and I mean that in a positive way.
As you can see, there is a very wide price range for this album. The high end goes to the rare blue/silver pressing. That'll cost you a fortune. I have the semi-circle second pressing, and I can honestly tell you that it is fantastic and a perfectly suitable copy of this beautiful record. I picked mine up 10 years ago for 75 GBP.
Alternatively, the contents of this album are available on CD both on the EMI budget line (coupled with Gyorgy Cziffra playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto) as well as part of the out-of-print 2 CD set of Leonid Kogan: Artist Profile. That one has pretty much all of the stereo concerto recordings Kogan made for Columbia/EMI, and you can get it as an Arkiv reissue for less than $20.