Monday, June 27, 2011

Oleg Kagan and Svyatoslav Richter – Mozart Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Among greatest Russian violinists of the eighties, Oleg Kagan was one with best chances for playing leading role in world of violin, person of great possibilities. He died in 1990, before his 44, in very moment his career became flourished. His live recordings are the testimony of interpreting talent and great artistic consciousness. He was born in 1946 on Sakhalin, learned in Ryga and since he was thirteen in Moscow Conservatory in classes of Boris Kuznetsov and David Oistrakh. In seventies he became playing chamber music with Natalia Gutman and Svyatoslav Richter and this partnership gives him chance for developing of worldwide career.
There are many good records documenting interpreting art of Oleg Kagan. One of them is great is double album with Franz Schubert’s Octet and Two Trios recorded in 1979 and published in 1983. Special position in artist’s discography have live recordings of chamber concertos he took part. One of them is published in 1987 by Melodya recording of the Mozart recital during December Evenings at the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum in Moscow. Oleg Kagan and Svyatoslav Richter played two sonatas for violin and piano of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Sonata B-flat Major KV 378 and Sonata G Major KV 379.

Kagan and Richter – Mozart Sonatas

Notability of this recording is contribution of both members of the duo – Kagan and Richter. Mozart wrote his Sonata B-flat Major as 23-years-old but yet quite mature composer. Two years later it was published as number 4 in set of 6 Sonatas op. 2. And great composer’s stylistic achievement in this compositions is creating musical narration as the bound between instruments. He gave no chance to play this work by one an musicians has to think about both instruments simultaneously, what means listener have to hear their joint appearance the same way. Svyatoslav Richter was one of greatest pianists of 20th century and great interpreter of chamber music. He was genius of musical thinking, legendary performer of hours of orchestral music on piano without previously prepared transcriptions. His solo piano recordings demand the highest attention and in short time I am going to write about this genius again.
This is about Oleg Kagan, great violinist who passed too early, to show what were his real possibilities. His tone, sometimes with strong vibration and firmly drawn phrasing was in a way belonging to post-romantic school. Such strong shaping of Mozart phrases makes its emotional content more expressive and understandable. In Brezhnev era it was compliant to Soviet Union official esthetics – such strongly accented interpretations were better readable for working class and whole society. Sometimes it seamed like he was missing the past of violin glory, trying to renew the style of nineteenth century masters. But while listening his recordings of modern music and 18th century compositions it becomes clear, he is more like romantic virtuoso who is moving towards reconciliation of emotional violin school with modern expectations of intellectual distance and emotional calm. There’s no need to add the performance of Mozart’s Sonatas is great, it’s clear itself.

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