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Jonathan Woolf
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OK Mozart


The Brothers Kreisler – Fritz Kreisler Original compositions and arrangements
Marche Miniature Viennoise (transcribed for string quartet by Erik Leidzen, published 1948) [2:54]
Liebesleid (transcribed for string quartet by Erik Leidzen, published 1948) [3:20]
Caprice Viennois Op. 2 (transcribed for string quartet by Erik Leidzen, published 1948) [3:49]
Schön Rosmarin (transcribed for string quartet by Erik Leidzen, published 1948) [1:48]
Liebesfreud (transcribed for string quartet by Erik Leidzen, published 1948) [3:12]
Andante (Beethoven Andante favori WoO 57) [2:15]
Nina (attributed to Pergolesi - Tre giorni son che Nina) [2:27]
O Sanctissima (Corelli) [2:42]
L'arlésienne, Suite No. 2, Intermezzo (Agnus Dei) [5:02]
Syncopation [1:53]
Farewell to Cucullain (Londonderry Air) arranged by Hugo and Fritz Kreisler [3:19]
Marche Miniature Viennoise  [2:43]
Caprice Viennois Op. 2 arranged by Robert Biederman [3:49]
String Quartet in A Minor (1919) [27:42]
Berceuse Romantique Op. 9 adapted for viola by Paul Neubauer [3:44]
Aucassin Et Nicolette (Canzonetta Medievale) adapted for viola by Paul Neubauer [2:27]
Nai-Yuan Hu and Ani Kavafian (violins): Paul Neubauer (viola): Ronald Thomas (cello); Ani Kavafian (violins): Ronald Thomas (cello):Anne-Marie McDermott (piano); Paul Neubauer (viola): Anne-Marie McDermott (piano)
rec. First Baptist Church and the Bartlesville Community Centre, Oklahoma, OK Mozart Festival, June 2001
OK MOZART 001 [74:39]


Experience Classicsonline

Everyone knows Fritz but only specialists will have heard of his talented cellist brother Hugo (1884-1929), who was about a decade younger and a prominent chamber player in Vienna; cellist in the Fitzner Quartet and in the Wiener Konzerthaus Quartet. After the First War he journeyed to America where he played in various orchestras, including the Philadelphia, and he also made a handful of 78s with Fritz and pianist Charlton Keith. Later on Hugo made cello discs with Fritz accompanying on piano in Berlin. This then is the background to this genial release which revivifies some of the arrangements that, one assumes, Fritz crafted. We also have some arrangements of c.1948 by Erik William Gustav Leidzen, of whom more in a moment. And to add serious ballast we also have a performance of Kreisler’s scintillating String Quartet of 1919, still a rarity on disc.

The disc actually starts with the five Leidzen arrangements. This Swedish-born musician was a Salvation Army band stalwart who wrote for the band as well as for the Goldman Band. They’re engaging salon confections arranged for string quartet. The foursome employs quite a bit of rubato in Liebesleid and there are some shimmering tremolandi to entice the auditor. Hu and Kavafian swapped roles for the final two pieces to allow the latter the chance to take the primarius role for Schön Rosmarin and Liebesfreud.

A trio of pieces follow, arranged for piano trio – Fritz, Hugo and a pianist in other words. Nina is especially warmly voiced in this reading, with successive legato prominence for cello and violin, in that order. A couple of pieces follow for viola, cello and piano and the Neubauer-Thomas-McDermott team prove worthy ambassadors. Syncopation is Kreisler’s Ragtime-light offering. And bravo to the Hu-Thomas-McDermott trio when they take over for giving us Londonderry Air at a Kreisler tempo and not the dirge it’s subsequently become. Those unaccustomed to it can therefore also hear the March Miniature Viennoise in Kreisler’s trio and in Leidzen’s quartet arrangements. Caprice Viennoise is here heard both in the Leidzen and in Robert Biederman arrangements.

The Quartet is the meaty offering. It was premiered by the London Symphony Quartet in May 1921, we are always told (as here) but actually it was – I’m pretty sure – the London String Quartet who took the honours and who first made an (abridged) recording shortly afterwards. When Kreisler recorded it in 1935 it was with the rump of the London Quartet – second violinist Thomas Petre (who had premiered it) and William Primrose. The cellist then was the best player in London at the time, Lauri Kennedy, of the Chamber Music Players. This disc performance is warmly textured with a strong rhythmic underpinning. It has a generous lightness of touch, playful in the Scherzo but promoting veiled hues in the movement’s B section. The Romance is succulent, the finale richly and evocatively played; the admixture of Debussy and Korngold is inescapable perhaps, but this is a work teeming with ideas.

To finish we have a couple of viola and piano encores – Neubauer’s own adaptation of Aucassin Et Nicolette is especially fetching.

These are not new performances. They were recorded at the First Baptist Church and the Bartlesville Community Centre, Oklahoma, as part of the OK Mozart Festival, in June 2001. The acoustic is a bit swimmy and some of the pieces end a bit abruptly – presumably to edit out applause. Coughs and the occasional duff note have also been allowed to stand which adds to the liveliness of the encounter. The booklet has some nice photographs including one of the Abbey Road recording of the Quartet by Kreisler and confreres that I don’t recall having seen before – they all look a bit glum, so maybe that’s why.

Jonathan Woolf




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