Encore! Encore!
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Pugnani [6:19]
Preghiera in the style of Padre Martini [3:20]
La Précieuse in the style of Louis Couperin [3:10]
Tambourin Chinois [3:59]
Caprice Viennois [4:05]
Marche Miniature Viennoise [3:13]
Liebesfreud [3:28]
Liebesleid [3:28]
Schön Rosmarin [2:00]
Giuseppe SAMMARTINI (1695-1750)
Canto Amoroso - from Sonata in A, Op 1 No.4 [2:58]
Edward ELGAR (1857 1934)
Salut d’amour [3:21]
Alfredo d’AMBROSIO (1871-1914)
Sonnet Allègre [2:38]
Canzonetta Op.6 [3:22]
Romance Op.9 [5:13]
Serenade Op.4 [3:24]
Jenö HUBAY (1858-1937)
Hejre Kati [5:56]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Meditation from Thaïs [5:51]
Vittorio MONTI (1868-1922)
Czardas [5:18]
Londonderry Air arranged Fritz Kreisler [4:42]
Peter Fisher (violin)
Peter Hewitt (piano)
rec. July 2009, Stockenny, New Radnor
LITMUS LIT 106-2 [75:56]
Here’s a fiddle-fanciers dream line-up or, perhaps, one kind of fiddle-fancier’s dream line-up. Rather like best-ever sporting teams culled from the pages of history, there are always several different ways of compiling a line-up. Peter Fisher has gone heavily for a phalanx of Kreisleriana, playing nine pieces by the king of the genre in the twentieth century, and adding satellite composers. These include the obvious Elgar, the very obvious Traditional, the crushingly obvious Massenet and the highly unexpected d’Ambrosio.
Fisher is a neat, subtle, precise player. His mentor was the Czechoslovakian - to be precise, Slovakian - player Jaroslav Vaněček who had studied first in Bratislava, and in Prague and then taught in Dublin and at the Royal College of Music in London. He died in 2011 at the age of 91, and Fisher dedicates the disc to his memory.
I’ve read that Vaněček taught in the Russian tradition, but he himself modelled his own teaching more on Carl Flesch’s lines. Whatever the influence on his students may have been, it’s clear that Fisher doesn’t make a big sound, and generally avoids the heavy-boned Russian approach. He is a good stylist, paying great attention to shifts, and his finger position changes are invariably acutely judged. Portamento is used discreetly, and well. He is also not in thrall to any other approach, and has his own ideas. For my tastes his Praeludium and Allegro slows rather too much, but it’s a well argued performance should you be sympathetic. He can take his time in the Kreisler pieces; more a matter of rhythm than tempo, and if his Tambourin Chinois lacks zip, his Marche Miniature Viennois doesn’t.
He has a fine colleague in Peter Hewitt who vests something like Sammartini’s Canto Amoroso with a deal of treble glint and colour and who generally keeps things alive. The book-style card describes this as Mischa Elman’s work adding a bracketed Sammartini, but this is surely from the Sonata in A, Op.1 No.4. Elman certainly recorded it, at least twice. He played it significantly slower than Fisher, in fact, both in 1914 (with a brass band style accompaniment) and again, this time with piano, in 1956 for Decca. He took time to inflect the music with some dazzlingly effective colours.
Fisher’s Salut d’amour is affectionate and sugar-free, though his Hubay Hejre Kati lacks something of Hungarian bravado. He respects Monti’s naughty Czardas and doesn’t pillage them à la Nigel Kennedy - though NK’s pillaging is not without its attractions. However the four d’Ambrosio pieces offer the choicest discographical rewards in the selection. His confections were recorded by the elite of the profession - Heifetz, Elman, Sammons and Thibaud led the way, but the composer himself, a rather salon-ish player, also recorded them. I’ve often wished a CD were devoted to his recordings. The pizzicato and legato charms of the Sonnet Allègre are neatly negotiated, and the once-famous Op.6 Canzonetta retains its somewhat suave persona. The Romance is well phrased, and the Serenade is not over-vibrated - though it does rather lack Thibaud’s sensuality.
If you want to know about the pieces you need to follow the web link in the CD card, a practice I don’t really like, but I do like the nice, well produced black and white montage shots of the composers - and indeed the two performers - on the front.
Jonathan Woolf
Not a big sound … avoids the heavy-boned Russian approach. He is a good stylist, paying great attention to shifts … finger position changes are invariably acutely judged.