The young Viennese violinist Luka Kusztrich has constructed a pleasingly Old School debut CD. He has been supported by Bank Austria – he was their Artist of the Year 2014 – in concert-giving, promotion, and the making of this disc. Born in 1991 he has been partnered here by the older Dora Deliyska, herself an admired performer whose discs of Liszt and Schubert have garnered very favourable reviews.
It’s inevitable, though, that this is Kusztrich’s show and that he should choose to promote his affiliation with the music of Fritz Kreisler. Sensibly he balances the allurement of the disc’s title track and the Old Viennese Dance Melodies – Liebesfreud
to thee and me – with The Miniature Viennese March
, which is slightly less often encountered. This last gets a rhythmically knowing performance. The two old favourites are played with stylistic awareness but no emotive gestures. His tone remains pure, without those layers of expressive breadth that the composer himself revealed, and nor does he essay much by way of portamento. And yet, as he shows in Caprice Viennois
, he’s not afraid slightly to elasticate the line, especially in the outer sections. Brahms is represented by his Hungarian Dance No.1 and this prepares the way for Ravel’s Tzigane.
This receives a thoughtful and considered approach, bolstered by a fine technique and astute musical judgement. As a performance it’s neither suave nor over-refined but then it’s also not rugged or especially dramatic. Tonally unopulent Kusztrich tends to the more silvery spectrum in that respect, and perhaps misses a degree of spontaneity and wit from time to time. The final piece, Enesco’s Violin Sonata No.3, sees the two players in fine accord. They catch the pensive folkloric hesitations of the slow movement nicely, and elsewhere the duo plays with bracing commitment. I wouldn’t say it displaces the performance by Remus Azoitei and Eduard Stan on Hänssler Classic
– a complete Enescu violin twofer – or the other classics out there, but it provides a youthful slant on this powerful work.
In fact all the pieces date from the pre-1927 period and reveal a successful approach on their own terms. The disc is quite short measure, but is artist orientated, and reveals a youthful talent in the making.