Leonid Borisovich Kogan was a preeminent Soviet violinist during the 20th century. Many consider him to be among the greatest violinists of the 20th century. In particular, he is considered to have been one of the greatest representatives of the Soviet School of violin playing.
This disc in the Avison Ensemble’s project to record the complete Corelli chamber music is devoted to his Op. 5 collection of violin sonatas – works that swept Europe by storm when they were first published in 1700. Recent recordings include Accademia Bizantina, Purcell Quartet, Trio Corelli, Trio Sonnerie, and a particularly charismatic version from Andrew Manze with harpsichordist Richard Egarr. One of the most immediate differences between these versions is their approach to the continuo, the Avison Ensemble favouring the varied timbres and textures of an ensemble (variously harpsichord or organ, archlute, Baroque guitar and cello) rather than solo harpsichord.
Manuscript XIV 726 of the Minoritenkonvent in Vienna is one of the most important sources of Austrian baroque music. From the over hundred sonatas contained in it, Gunar Letzbor has compiled the series "ex Vienna" consisting of three programmes which shed light on various aspects of Austrian violin music. In the first part of the series, 'Anonymus', Gunar Letzbor has recorded violin works from this Viennese manuscript, in which the names of the composers are not specified. The selected pieces reveal a broad expressive spectrum, also containing echoes of baroque dance music. What all the works share is their high technical standard: high registers, unusual bowing, polyphonic passages, onomatopoeia and runs to be played at breakneck speed bearing witness to a high standard of violin playing north of the Alps: whoever wrote these works must have been an outstanding violinist. Gunar Letzbor is the established specialist in performing Austrian baroque music; in particular, he has intensively grappled with works of Biber, Muffat and Schmelzer, to name but three examples. In so doing, he is constantly searching for an especially Austrian baroque string sound. On this recording, Letzbor is accompanied by Erich Traxler (harpsichord, organ positive), Jan Krigovsky (violone) and Hubert Hoffmann (lute) of Ars Antiqua Austria.
'Drawing on archival performance footage and interviews, The Art of Violin evokes the vast panorama of the world of the violin in the 20th century and its most outstanding performers. ….it is hard to express the explosions of joy occasioned by the discovery of long sought-out but undreamed-of archives, such as some silent - and later resynchronised - film footage, or the few brief moments of Chausson's Poème played by Ginette Neveu, the silent yet moving (in every sense of the word) images of Kreisler and Ysaÿe, the awe of a young Menuhin, the superb single camera shot of David Oistrakh performing the cadenza from Shostakovich's First Concerto.'