Pablo de SARASATE (1844-1908)
Airs bohémiens [8:31] ¹
Jota aragonesa [5:26]
Jota Navarra [5:33]
Romance andalouse [4:57]
Playera [4:34]
Zapateado [4:21]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Tambourin chinois [3:31] ¹
Preludium and Allegro on a theme of Pugnani [6:01] ¹
Sicilienne et Rigaudon [4:37] ¹
Liebesleid [3:16] ¹
Manuel de FALLA (1876-1946)
Danse de "La Vie brève" (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [3:28] ¹
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Tango (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [2:42] ¹
Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697-1764)
Tambourin (arr. Fritz Kreisler) [2:36] ¹
Devy Erlih (violin)
André Collard (piano)
Maurice Bureau (piano) ¹
rec. Salle Adyar Paris, 13 October 1955 all Bureau tracks except Sarasate’s Airs bohémiens (19 February 1957); 19 February 1957, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris)

Forgotten Records has been active in restoring Devy Erlih’s recordings to the CD market. I wrote a little about him in my review of their release of the Khachaturian Concerto. A small cult has grown up around Erlih, in part because his 1950s LPs are hard to trace, and have been largely ignored in the CD age. This means that these transfers – all good by the way – are most welcome, but particularly to violin aficionados, who are clearly the intended target.

This disc conjoins two studio recitals given in Paris in 1955 and 1957. The repertoire is Sarasate and Kreisler, or Kreisler arrangements. The pianist colleagues are André Collard and Maurice Bureau. Erlih’s Sarasate is interesting, sometimes quixotic, and never commonplace. The very precise articulation of the Airs bohemians, in its French nomenclature, and the very elastic rubato are both active components of Erlih’s singular way, as is the rather strict metricality of the final section. To some this may well seem somewhat ungrammatical, musically speaking, in its rather stop-start way (it does seem so to me) but it is certainly ear catching. But Erlih undoubtedly nails the boulevardier whistling of the Jota aragonesa and its well timed pizzicati. His Playera is quite melancholic and Zapateado a touch cautious.

The acoustical change from the Theâtre des Champs-Elysees to the Salle Aydar is certainly noticeable, but it’s not off-putting in the least. The Preludium and Allegro tends to bring out the best, or worst, in fiddlers. Erlih brings out some rich expressive gestures – a slowing down and pianissimi for the repeat – and he’s keen to bring nuance to his phrasing in the quicker passagework, some of which works, and some of which doesn’t. He trips politely through the Sicilienne et Rigaudon. In Kreisler’s arrangement of Albéniz’s Tango he builds incrementally to the climax; what seems like a lack of panache is actually a subtle build-up to it. Liebesleid is a touch affected though, in its rhythmically unstable approach, but then again it’s not dull, for sure.

Erlih fans should eagerly snap up this disc, containing its two engagingly played recitals, the better to mull over the violinist’s individual approach to the repertory.

Jonathan Woolf

Erlih fans should eagerly snap up this disc.