Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Columbia SAX 2323 The Tchaikovsky Concerto Recording To Own

SAX 2323

Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Meditation

Leonid Kogan, violin
Constantin Silvestri, conductor
Paris Conservatoire Orchestra

Pressing: ER2

Condition: NM

YLX 1048-8
YLX 1049-8

Performance: 10/10

Sound: 8/10

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.



  1. This can be had on Classics for Pleasure CFP 40083. $3000 for a B&S. $400 for semi-circle. Not an uncommon SAX, so the market concurs with your assessment.

    Silvestri is something in that fourth movement (Kogan too). I'd like to have a copy of Campoli on Decca/London too.

  2. Yes, I agree! I've never owned the Campoli, but I have the CD as part of Ataulfo Argenta's Decca Original Masters 5 CD box set. Sounds excellent, though it's possible that the CD could be clearer than the LP. How much does the CFP for this Kogan go for? $3000 for a B/S is just ludicrous. The semi-circle (or magic notes as you put it) sounds perfect for a fraction of the price. If the CFP is inexpensive ands ounds good, it might just be the budget conscious way to go.

  3. I'd guess $25 for NM. Some of the other Kogan stuff might go this high some of the time. I haven't sprung for one of these premium reissues as I am still working out what reissue pressings I like the best. I've got that Regal Cantelli Beethoven 7 and Kempe Brahms 1 CFP coming. Just when I thought I had this down I've started liking the Big Dog pressings a bit more. I am warming up the system now. I've got to tweak out my cartridge loading. I am hoping to retain all my recent gains and up the treble magic level, but may not work out. I can hear the difference between 8k and 7k loading, etc. so I am going to have to setup some kind of a rig for quicker testing.

  4. I have this on Blue/Silver. The Stamper numbers are YLX 1048-8 1 O & YLX 1049-8 1 A
    Kogan's playing is superb, and few others even come close IMHO.

    I also have the CFP but I prefer the tonal balance of the SAX

    1. Ahhh, the coveted blue/silver. It's (ridiculously) amazing how much those go for on Ebay these days. Like the Oistrakh, I bought this one from a UK dealer 11 years ago for about 75 GBP. Not sure i'd call it an investment, but the prices have certainly inflated. One of my favorite Tchaikovsky's, if not my favorite. I'm due to receive the Szeryng Living Stereo recording any day now and will likely post a review soon.

    2. Note that the outrageously price Silver has the same matrices are your magic label.

  5. I have a UK Decca pressed grooved plum label VICS 1037 of Szeryng and the Boston SO conducted by Munch with 1G/1G stampers. SQ is really good but I prefer Kogan's style which seems to suit the Tchaikovsky well.

    1. I'm inclined to agree with you. I used to have the Szeryng shaded dog but sold it a while back to fund the SAX acquisitions. I'll be glad to have it back but am not confident that it would compete handily with the Kogan. Kogan has just the right tone for this warhorse. I have the Oistrakh on US Columbia/CBS 2-eye, which is also fine but doesn't have the same fire. Heifetz on RCA is also one of the oft praised performances, though it's hard to get a clean and early pressing of this. I reviewed the Ferras ASD (paired with the Mendelssohn), but sound quality was sadly not great.

    2. After the Kogan my next two favourite performances are the Erica Morini on Westminster notwithstanding the tape hiss and Michelle Auclair on Philips / Fontana. After that would probably be the Ricci on SDD

    3. I have yet to hear the Morini and Auclair ... the latter is in mono? I have the Ricci on London FFSS, which I recall being a good performance, but I should go back and listen again. There is also the Milstein on Capitol.

    4. The Auclair is stereo, I have it on Fontana SFL 14059 and Philips SGL 5815. I also have the Milstien/Steinberg Capitol, also the WRC reissue.
      I'm undecided on the Ricci, copy of SXL 2279 and both copies of SDD 126 I have all use the same stampers, 1E/6D and I have been keeping an eye out for an earlier (or later) pressing

    5. Get your 1E/3E Bluebacks for under $50 all day long. The earliest copies would be Decca on this one and well worth $500 in the minds of some especially given the exception ugly London cover for this one. I've had great luck with London's in the CS6200 range. I thought I might have a later copy of this kicking around, but it has eluded detection. I do see grooved FFRR London's for the budget collector.

    6. There's also the Campoli/Argenta Decca/London, released before Ricci's. I've got a VG+ copy (1E/1E) but it sounds very good, and I like Campoli's style of playing. Should not be too hard to nab a copy of this.

    7. Love Campoli's Scottish Fantasy. He's on EMI too doing Beethoven VC SXLP 20043.