A Tribute to FRITZ KREISLER = with Kreisler, Ruggiero Ricci, Jascha Heifetz, David Oistrakh, Christian Ferras, Gidon Kremer, Anne-Sophie Mutter & others – DGG (2 CDs)

by | Jan 27, 2012 | Classical Reissue Reviews

A Tribute to FRITZ KREISLER = Praeludium and Allegro; Sicilienne and Rigaudon; Chanson Louis XIII and Pavane; Rondino on a Theme of Beethoven; Variations on a Theme of Corelli; Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice;  Caprice viennois; Tambourin chinois; Liebesfreud; Liebesleid; Schoen Rosmarin; La Gitana; The Old Refrain; La Chasse; Andantino; La Precieuse; Syncopation; Marche miniature viennois; Gypsy Caprice; Polichinelle; TCHAIKOVSKY: Song Without Words; GLUCK: Melodie; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Hymn to the Sun; Hindu Song; CHAMINADE: Serenade espagnole; FALLA: Danza espanola; ALBENIZ: Tango; WEBER: Larghetto; DVORAK: Humoresque; Slavonic Dance, Op. 72, No. 2; GLAZUNOV: Serenade espagnole; GRANADOS: Danse espagnole; WIENIAWSKI: Caprice in E-flat Major; MENDELSSOHN: Fruehlingslied — Fritz Kreisler, violin/ Haddon Squire, piano/ George Falkenstein, piano/ Ruggiero Ricci, violin/ Brooks Smith, piano/ Jascha Heifetz, violin/Emanuel Bay, piano/ David Oistrakh, violin/ Vladimir Yampolsky, piano/ Christian Ferras, violin/ Jean-Claude Ambrosini, piano/ Shlomo Mintz, violin/ Clifford Benson, piano/ Gidon Kremer, violin/ Oleg Maisenberg, piano/ Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin/ Lambert Orkis, piano/ Andre Previn, piano – DGG B0016377-02 (2 CDs) 63:31; 67:33 [Distr. by Universal] *****:
DGG issues an extended tribute to Viennese violin virtuoso Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) that features early inscriptions from Kreisler himself, recorded 1910-1912, as well those from more contemporary masters equally enchanted by his native lyricism and arrangements of selected composers’ national styles.  The major contribution lies in the restoration of the recital of fourteen pieces by violin legend Ruggiero Ricci (b. 1918) and Brooks Smith (1912-2000) for American Decca (1961) that show off Ricci in his most facile and luxuriously spirited form, that same piercing accuracy and vibrant intonation he and Smith achieved in the music of Sarasate. It was upon his work with Ricci that I complimented Smith when he appeared in Atlanta, eager to mention collaborative beauty of inflection with an artist other than the ubiquitous Heifetz.  Ricci’s flair in the more virtuosic selections never wavers, and we must nod in ardent appreciation when he intones those mellow gracious pieces, like the “Chanson Louis XIII,” in which aristocracy of expression proves tantamount. Always touched by the gypsy style, Ricci’s playing carries an innate nervous energy and slightly rasping edge that insures electric energy in his renditions, no matter how “civilized” the music. So, as you can imagine, “La Gitana” and “La Chasse” sachet and canter in a most sultry fashion, rife with erotic panoply.
Kreisler appears in six selections from early acoustic records, his sterling tone able to overcome the heavy shellac noises endemic to the period.  The “Liebesfreud/Liebesleid” combination and “Tambourin chinois” from England (6 November 1911) convey a warm charm, given the surface noise makes us think Kreisler plays near a crackling-log fireplace. The “Schoen Rosmarin,” and Andantino “in the style of Padre Martini” were cut in Camden, New Jersey, 18 December 1912 and their sound proves inferior to the British sides. The earliest of the inscriptions, Tchaikovsky’s lovely, simple “Song Without Words” (20 May 1910) suffers intrusive swish, but Kreisler’s direct sincerity somehow survives. The two elusive Jascha Heifetz Deccas from 1945 that had separate reissue from MCA feature the suave master in arrangements by Kreisler of Gluck’s “Melodie” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Hymn to the Sun,” each a slick testimony to an effortless finesse that Virgil Thomson once characterized as “Silk Underwear Music.” David Oistrach (10 December 1949) offers one appearance, in a bold rendition from Moscow of “La Gitana” with accompanist Yampolsky.  Most elegant on every level enters Christian Ferras (1933-1982), the tragically-fated French virtuoso who brings us to immediate tears with his Dvorak “Humoresque” from Paris (16 December 1968).  Equally subtle is Ferras’ “Serenade espagnole” by Chaminade, calling upon Ferras’ whistling slides and flute tone. His “Hindu Song” combines sensuality and mysticism, making us want to hear him in a complete Scheherazade. The concluding Falla piece resounds with fire in lofty sparks, violin and keyboard in feral, unanimous heat.
Shlomo Mintz (b. 1957) offers nine pieces by Kreisler from the Jerusalem Music Center in June 1980, enough to establish his seamless credentials in this music, much of which basks in Iberian rhythms and Viennese lilts. The Wieniawski “Caprice” provides a good example of peerless nonchalance. The naturalness of the Slavonic Dance in E Minor melts one’s musical complacency about familiar strains. The lovely keyboard work from Clifford Benson deserves no less note for its plangent bass tones. After the warmly romantic “Larghetto” of Weber, the “Gypsy Caprice” plays like a Cheshire Cat, coy and canny, Kreisler by way of Satie. Both Glazunov and Granados replicate the strumming of Spanish guitars, and a fine troubadour the violin makes besides, anticipating Sarasate. Mintz injects a slide or sforzato into the Granados to spice up the already pulsating rhythmic thrusts of this inspired dance. The neatly galant “La Precieuse” typifies the Kreisler ternary song style, arched, rhythmically alert, and eminently charming.
Gidon Kremer (b. 1947) renders up two Kreisler characteristic pieces from 1995, accompanied by Oleg Maisenberg (b. 1945), first in “Syncopation,” a piece wherein Kreisler approaches Scott Joplin. The “Marche miniature viennoise” projects its own sophisticate’s panache, a militant moment in a bottle. The last four selections come to us courtesy of Anne-Sophie Mutter of the restrained vibrato but the romantic temperament, playing first three staples (rec. 14 January 2002): “Schoen Rosmarin,” “Caprice viennois,” and “Liebesleid”. What Mutter withholds in vibrato she adds in rubato and schwung. She and Lambert Orkis turn “Caprice viennois” into a virtual Hungarian Rhapsody, lassu and friss.  The tempo for “Liebesleid” borders on the moribund, except it has lilt. Finally, Mutter and Andre Previn in happier days, playing (21 September 2008) Mendelssohn’s “Spring Song”, relatively aerial and sunny.
—Gary Lemco
 
 
 
 
 
 

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