Hindemith: Violin Sonata in E; Violin Sonata in C; Violin Sonata in E flat, Op. 11/1; Violin Sonata in D, Op. 11/2

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COMPOSERS: Hindemith
LABELS: Live Classics
WORKS: Violin Sonata in E; Violin Sonata in C; Violin Sonata in E flat, Op. 11/1; Violin Sonata in D, Op. 11/2
PERFORMER: Oleg Kagan (violin), Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: LCL 161 ADD
Big with feeling, the playing style of Oleg Kagan (1946-90), pupil of the legendary David Oistrakh, is preserved in the archive recordings of Live Classics. These two recent additions to the series capture Kagan at the height of his powers: in 1978, in performance with Richter, and a couple of years before his death, in duet with his cellist wife Natalia Gutman.

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If the Richter connection is itself something to treasure, then so too is the rare chance to enjoy the fine violin sonatas of Hindemith. In these performances, recorded live at the Moscow Conservatoire’s Great Hall, what impresses most is the sheer musicality of the four pieces, so enthusiastically conveyed by the two artists. The ebullient stylistic shifts of the two earlier sonatas are enjoyed on their own terms, while the Gothic sadness of the mature slow movements embodies a heartfelt assertion of stylised grief.

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Distilled at times into pure line by the Kagan-Gutman duo, the many intricacies of the Ravel Sonata for violin and cello add up to a strangely incomplete beauty that is the riddle of this work. Gubaidulina’s five-movement Rejoice, a characteristic essay in religious intensity, stands for the many works inspired by Kagan’s friendships with Soviet composers. Nicholas Williams