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Kreisler plays Kreisler - Original Compositions and Transcriptions
Fritz KREISLER (1875 – 1962) Caprice Viennois – Tambourin Chinois – Liebesfreud – Liebesleid – Schön Rosmarin – La gitana; Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750) (arr. Kreisler) Gavotte (from Partita No. 3 in E); Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791) (arr. Kreisler) Rondo (from the Haffner-Serenade, K 250); Fritz KREISLER Rondino on a theme of Beethoven; Frederic CHOPIN (1810 – 1849) (arr. Kreisler) Mazurka in A minor, Op. 67, No. 4; Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897) (arr. David Hochstein) Waltz in A, Op. 39, No. 15; Antonín DVOŘÁK (1841 – 1904) (arr. Kreisler) Humoresque (from Humoresques, Op. 101, No. 7); Pjotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 – 1893) (arr. Kreisler) Andante cantabile (from String Quartet No. 1); Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844 – 1908) (arr. Kreisler) Hymn to the Sun (from The Golden Cockerel) – Chant Hindou (from Sadko); Manuel de FALLA (1876 – 1946) (arr. Kreisler) Spanish dance (from La vida breve); Ede POLDINI (1869 - 1957) (arr. Kreisler) Dancing Doll; Cyril SCOTT (1879 - 1970) (arr. Kreisler) Lotus Land; TRADITIONAL (arr. Kreisler) Londonderry Air
Fritz Kreisler (violin); Franz Rupp (piano)
Recorded 28th September, 1936 in the Electrola Studios, Berlin (tracks 1, 2), 14-15 February 1938 in EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London
NAXOS 8.110992 [67:08]

Among all the great violinists from the past Fritz Kreisler is perhaps the one who was and is most deeply rooted among "common people" – whoever they are. As Tully Potter writes in his insert note, "in the first half of the last century, hardly a music-loving, middle-class household in Europe or America did not possess at least one Kreisler 78 rpm record, and as often as not, it would contain two of his encores". Many of these encores are collected on this disc and I am sure there are older collectors who remember and even still own some of the original 78s. Many somewhat younger violin lovers who, like me, started collecting in the late 1950s or early 1960s, may well have the majority of them on HMV COLH 19 in a linen cover with "Les gravures illustrés" in golden letters. I bought this record in my early twenties but long before that I knew many of these pieces from the radio. Most of them I knew from hearing my father’s playing; he was a self-taught amateur violinist. Hearing them again evokes memories and this longtime familiarity with Kreisler’s interpretations makes it difficult to listen objectively. They are good old friends and they sound just as I remember them – only with more clarity than my old and worn LP could produce. In particular the piano has more presence than before. Not that that is of great importance since the piano leads an obscure life on most of the tracks. However in the rondo from Mozart’s Haffner Serenade, Franz Rupp has more prominent lines to play and he does it well. Rupp was quite an important accompanist for many years, recording with several front rank singers: Marian Anderson and Heinrich Schlusnus among them. With Kreisler he also recorded the complete Beethoven violin sonatas - also available on Naxos.

What was it that made Kreisler so famous and loved by so many? Just listen to the first track on this disc, the bitter-sweet Caprice Viennois. All his hallmarks are there: the warm, beautiful tone, the easy elegance, the affectionate and utterly natural soft pianissimos, his rubatos, the perfectly executed double stops. The next track, Tambourin Chinois, shows that he still possessed a quite stunning technical agility, in spite of being 61 years old and long since stopped practising.

The Mozart rondo (track 8) is stylishly played with an almost breathless lightness. Dvořák’s Humoresque, which was my father’s favourite, was probably Kreisler’s too, since there is a quite exceptional intensity and the silk-smooth double stops are so lovely.

In all fairness each and everyone of these "lollipops" (in the finest sense of the word) should be commented on but I leave it to the readers to discover all the golden treasures that are hidden on this inexpensive disc. There is full documentation concerning matrix numbers, catalogue numbers and recording dates. It is amazing to realize that 17 of these 19 tracks were set down in only two days in February 1938, most of them obviously needing only one take. Tully Potter’s notes are a good read and all are masterworks, although in a genre that has often been disdained. When played like this they should not be frowned upon; they should be owned and heard. Strongly recommended!

Göran Forsling

see also review by Jonathan Woolf



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