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The Complete Concerto Recordings (volume 3)
Various orchestras and conductors
Double Concerto in D minor
Violin Concerto no 4 in G
Concerto in D in one movement
(after Vivaldi) Concerto in C

NAXOS Historical Recordings 8.110922  [70. 07]

On several counts, this is a recording of exceptional interest. It serves as a vivid reminder of Kreisler's incomparable artistry - his relaxed virtuosity, rich tonal palette and effortless bowing technique. His frequent indulgence in portamento also reminds us of changing fashions in violin-playing.

The Bach is an acoustic recording dating from 1915 in which Kreisler is joined by Efrem Zimbalist (nicely-contrasted in style) and an accompaniment reduced to a string quartet. This remastering is remarkably vivid: thematic lines are clear throughout, the balance is excellent and though eyebrows would now be raised at the excessive rallentando at the close of the first movement and a largo which is definitely tanto, this is a performance to savour despite its venerable age.

The Mozart, recorded in 1939, is notable as much for Kreisler's elegant cadenzas as for his consistently silken tone. In passing - he accompaniment which the youthful Sargent drew from the LSO is characterised by a suppleness which was later to desert him.

Paganini's violin concertos contain bright ideas but a poverty of symphonic development, so Kreisler's imaginative reworking of the first movement of the D major concerto puts the composer in a favourable light - it does not outstay its welcome as is the case with the original. The highlight here is a stunning cadenza. But, as Tully Potter points out in an informative accompanying booklet, this was an early RCA Victor concerto recording, and the company's inexperience in the field brought an unexpected bonus. No 'spotlight-mike' is used for the soloist, so the result is an experience much more faithful to concert hall conditions than is usually the case nowadays.

This recording was made in 1936, shortly after Ormandy became conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra and signs of the opulent sound for which he made it famous are already apparent.

The Concerto after Vivaldi (1945) is one of Kreisler's pseudo-baroque confections - its second movement at any rate sounds vaguely authentic.

For the technically-minded the provenance of this recordings is provided in detail

Adrian Smith



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