Fritz Kreisler - The Complete Recordings – vol. 1 I. Gramophone and Typewriter Ltd, Berlin 1904 Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750)
1. Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006: I Prelude in E (arr. Kreisler)
2. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, BWV 1068: II Air on the G string
(arr. Wilhelmj) [2:38] Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840 –
3. Souvenir de Hapsal Op. 2; No. 3 Chant sans paroles
(arr. Kreisler) [2:52] Joseph SULZER (? - ?)
4. Sarabande Op. 8 [1:56] François SCHUBERT (1808 – 1878)
5. L’abeille (The Bee) Op. 13, No. 9 [1:00] II. Victor Talking Machine Company, New York City, May 1910 Bedrich SMETANA (1824 – 1884)
6. From My Homeland: No. 2 Andantino ‘Bohemian Fantasy’ [4:10] Stephen Collins FOSTER (1826 – 1864)
7. Old Folks at Home (arr Kreisler) [3:14] Fritz KREISLER (1875 – 1962)
8. Caprice viennois, in G flat, Op. 2 [3:26] Antonín DVORÁK
(1841 – 1904)
9. Humoresque in G flat Op. 101 No. 7 [3:42] Jules MASSENET (1842 – 1912)
10. Thais: Meditation (arr. Martin Marsick) [3:50]
11. Thais: Meditation (arr. Martin Marsick) [3:59] Fritz KREISLER
12. Tambourin chinois [3:25]
13. Liebesleid [3:51]
14. Liebesfreud [3:20]
15. Liebesfreud [3:22] Bedrich SMETANA
16. From My Homeland: No. 2 Andantino ‘Bohemian Fantasy’ [4:26]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897)
17. Hungarian Dance No. 5 (arr. in G minor Joachim) [2:17] Fritz KREISLER
18. Variations on a Theme of Corelli (in the style of Tartini) [2:59]
19. Caprice viennois, Op. 2 [3:37] Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
20. Moments musicaux, D.780, No. 3 [1:53] Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683 – 1764)
21. Les fêtes d’Hébé: Tambourin (arr. Kreisler) [1:52] Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY
22. Souvenir de Hapsal Op. 2; No. 3 Chant sans paroles
(arr. Kreisler) [2:44] Rawlins COTTENET (? - ?)
23. Chanson – Méditation [4:03] Johann Sebastian BACH
24. Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006: III. Gavotte en Rondeau
in E (arr Kreisler) [3:14]
Fritz Kreisler (violin), w. piano accompaniment (1-5), w. George
Falkenstein (piano) (6- 24)
rec. Berlin 1904 (1-5); New York, May 1910 (6-24)
NAXOS 8.112053 [74:43]
Fritz Kreisler’s bon-bons belong to my earliest experiences of classical music. They were frequently played on the radio in the 1950s and my father used to play them on his violin. What I heard on the radio were almost certainly Kreisler’s later recordings from 1928 with the young Franz Rupp (1901 – 1992) at the piano. When I was able to buy an inexpensive record player and started to build a record collection, a cross-section of those Kreisler pieces, issued in the series Les gravures illustres on La voix de son maitre (COLH 19) in a luxurious linen cover, was one of my earliest acquisitions. That record that still has a honoured place on my shelves and has only recently been replaced by CD transfers. One should bear in mind that those recordings were made when Kreisler was well over sixty and hadn’t practised for ages.
On the first volume in what is scheduled to be ‘The Complete Recordings’ we encounter a much younger musician – though even by 1904, when the earliest sides were set down, he was a mature man, on the verge of turning thirty. Many of his favourite pieces are here heard in their first recordings. Two alternative takes were never issued on 78s: Massenet’s Meditation and his own Liebesfreud.
The first thing to marvel at is the quality of sound. Even on the five G&T sides from 1904 the violin tone flows lifelike and warm from the loudspeakers. The piano is just as clangy as on all the early vocal records I have grown accustomed to: Caruso, Melba, Tamagno and Plançon. There is a slight background noise that Ward Marston has retained so as not to lose upper frequencies in the reproduction of the violin. Once one has got used to it there are no problems to the enjoyment of Kreisler’s playing, which basically is as typical as it was on the later records I have known for fifty years. You can relish the precise articulation, the beautiful tone, sometimes, as in Sulzer’s Sarabande rather husky, the fine legato (listen to François Schubert’s L’abeille), and the sweetness and lightness of the portamenti.
Six years later the piano tone has improved. Here we meet the old friends: Caprice viennois with those marvellous double-stops, Dvorák’s Humoresque, lighter and more intimate than the Rupp version, Liebesleid fresh and possibly a mite more spontaneous – in 1910 he hadn’t played many hundreds of times. The Corelli variations are superbly assured and the two versions of Massenet’s Meditation are broadly romantic but with exquisitely fine nuances. The second take - which actually was the third since there must have been a matrix C-8944-1 which was scrapped – is more restrained, and it was also this version that was issued. Rameau’s Tambourin is slightly marred by excessively romantic rubatos, but in general this generation was more generous with tempo fluctuations. This can be heard also in the 1904 Air on the G string, which is one of the finest titles on the disc.
Tully Potter’s liner-notes are, as expected, both informative and entertaining. There is a note from the producer and the track-list has both matrix numbers and catalogue numbers. A model of presentation.
Real Kreisler freaks will not need encouragement from me to place their orders. More general Kreisler and/or violin lovers can safely invest in this issue as well. It sounds much better than one might imagine. And the playing is absolutely enchanting.
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