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Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Hommage À Fritz Kreisler
Barnabás Kelemen (violin)
Zoltán Kocsis (piano)
rec. August 2016, Phoenix Studio, Diósd

This was Zoltán Kocsis’ last recording, taped in August 2016. It was also a disc in which he, and not Barnabas Kelemen, selected the Kreislerian repertoire, and it was Kocsis who wrote the erudite, witty and sometimes even combative booklet notes. For example, he characterises Kreisler’s accompanists as ‘relatively poor, sometimes even unworthy…mediocre or worse’. There’s certainly an argument to be had here, but at a time in recorded history when all too often the piano accompanist remained anonymous on the 78 label, it could not help being a case of coach-and-horses. What Kocsis is pointing out, though, is the relative downplaying of the piano role in Kreisler recordings and it’s clear that he is determined that this is not to be the case in his own. Kreisler himself, as is well-known, was an excellent pianist. Kocsis duly honours the piano spectrum.

In any case the Kelemen-Kocsis partnership is one fully worthy to play these 21 pieces. There is a full quotient of élan in Tambourin chinois and whilst Kelemen sensibly makes no attempt to replicate Kreisler’s (in any case) inimitable expressive arsenal, he plays up to tempo and with invigorating confidence throughout the recital. A case in point is the hyphenated Dvořák Slavonic Dance where the violinist’s assertive confidence is matched by Kocsis who, as his notes would suggest, remains unafraid to draw the listener’s ear as much to the piano writing as to that for the violin. The Balogh-Kreisler Dirge of the North is quite rare on disc – it’s certainly no lollipop staple – and here Kelemen’s vibrato takes on a richer tone whilst Syncopation is also welcome given its own relative rarity in all-Kreisler discs. There are a couple of adeptly succulent slides, and fine dynamics, in Liebesleid and superb, Buster Keaton pianism in its companion, Liebesfreud where the exchanges between the two musicians are at their zenith. It’s hard sometimes not to overdo the coquettish rubati in Schön Rosmarin but Kelemen just about stays within bounds, adding a flirtatious patina to his playing. Maybe the Beethoven Rondino is slightly too droll for its own good especially in respect of articulation and Kocsis’s own high octane contribution, and the Marche miniature viennoise is quite lavishly characterised – but rather that than a too timid approach. If Dvořák’s Humoreske is too arch then compensation comes in the form of the richly lyric Andante cantabile performance, the fine Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice, where Kelemen is solo, and the masculine swagger of the Praeludium and Allegro which ends the programme confidently.

This perhaps unexpected Kocsis swansong documents the excellent rapport he had developed with his younger compatriot. It’s also a splendid recital in its own terms.

Jonathan Woolf

Disc contents
Tambourin chinois, Op. 3 [3:36]
Chanson Louis XIII et Pavane in the style of Louis Couperin (1626-1661) [4:55]
Allegretto in the style of Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) [3:04]
Dvořák-Kreisler: Slavonic Dance No.2 [4:13]
Balogh-Kreisler: Dirge of the North [2:54]
Liebesleid [3:44]
Liebesfreud [3:20]
Schön Rosmarin [1:55]
Syncopation [1:59]
Rondino on a theme by Beethoven [2:21]
Dvořák-Kreisler: Indian Lament [5:00]
Marche miniature viennoise [3:14]
Dvořák-Kreisler: Humoreske, Op. 101, No. 7 [2:55]
La Gitana [3:24]
Gypsy caprice [4:46]
Tchaikovsky-Kreisler: Andante cantabile, Op. 11 [5:26]
Toy Soldier’s March [2:16]
Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice, Op. 6 [4:32]
Heuberger-Kreisler: Midnight Bells (Der Opernball) [2:51]
Caprice viennois, Op. 2 [3:57]
Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Gaetano Pugnano (1731-1798) [4:46]



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