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Henryk Szeryng (violin): In Recital - Violin Encores
Tomaso VITALI (1653-1713)
Chaconne in G minor arr. Leopold Charlier [9:59]
Giuseppe TARTINI (1692-1770)
Violin Sonata in G minor 'Devil's Trill' arr. Fritz Kreisler [14:55]
Variations on a Theme of Corelli arr. Zino Francescatti [4:35]
Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787)
Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits [3:06]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Caprice Viennois, Op. 2 [4:11]
Allegretto (in the style of Boccherini) [2:22]
Liebesfreud [3:40]
Liebesleid [3:32]
Schön Rosmarin [1:52]
Praeludium and Allegro (in the style of Pugnani) [5:17]
Tambourin Chinois, Op. 3 [3:28]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Vogel als Prophet (No. 7 from Waldszenen, Op. 82) arr Jascha Heifetz [3:25]
Ernesto HALFFTER (1905-1989)
Danza de la gitana, arr Jascha Heifetz [3:23]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)
Scherzo-Tarantelle in G minor, Op. 16 [4:20]
Charles Reiner (piano)
rec. 1959-62
BIDDULPH LAW022 [69:18]

It’s good news that certain long out of print Biddulph discs are being distributed courtesy of Alto. This is one of the select few, though one hopes that this might prove to be an on-going project as Biddulph was an excellent label with a stable of generally well transferred important historical recordings. That said, some of Szeryng’s 1959-62 LP recordings, a significant number of which here derive from RCA SB2109, are of more modern vintage than, say, the Dubois-Maas duo 78s or Szigeti’s sonata sides, both of which are also on the current Biddulph-Alto roster.

The core of this recital lies to a large extent in a Baroque-Kreisler synthesis. There’s Kreisler arrangement of Tartini’s Devil’s Trill sonata, seven very familiar original pieces by Kreisler, a couple of other well-known Heifetz arrangements and some other items. This will immediately alert the collector of the Kreisler albums that Szeryng recorded.

His Vitali Chaconne, in the standard Charlier arrangement, is a model of refinement and precision with moments of heightened tensile power reminiscent of Heifetz’s own great recording. The Devil’s Trill has remarkable poise, each of the sonata’s sections superbly defined, and dispatched with true technical authority. In the Tartini Variations on a theme by Corelli – where he favours the Francescatti transcription over Kreisler’s – he displays elegance and dapper command; the trills are beautifully even and his diminuendos wonderfully judged, never sounding pre-programmed. His slides are super-subtle. As a performance it’s on a par with Francescatti’s own recording on 78s before the War.

The Kreislerian pieces reveal Szeryng to be one of the relatively few players both to honour the original whilst retaining strong individuality of feeling. In Caprice Viennois his heavier vibrato is utilised to good effect but though succulent in feeling he makes no attempt – fruitless in any event – to mimic Kreisler’s own inimitable playing. Schön Rosmarin is charmingly done, though Rosmarin is not too much the coquette here, and there are tremendous reserves of colour in Liebeslied – a yielding, pliant performance. His Praeludium and Allegro is not over-muscular; there is clarity and razor-sharp articulation, and some of the passagework is individually phrased. It’s by no means a by-rote reading of a piece that, famously and disappointingly, Kreisler himself never recorded.

He brings lightness and fantasy to Schumann’s Vogel als Prophet in its Heifetz transcription, purity to the Gluck and quicksilver virtuosity to Wieniawski’s Scherzo-Tarantelle; this last, in particular, is a perfect example of his technique and powers of projection.

It ends a fine restoration.

Jonathan Woolf



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