KREISLER: Music for Violin and Piano – Shlomo Mintz, v./ Cliford Benson, p. – PentaTone

by | Apr 15, 2016 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

A charming hour of Fritz Kreisler favorites, performed by a gifted violinist who relished the composer’s renaissance. 

KREISLER: Music for Violin and Piano – Polichinelle; La Gitana; ALBENIZ: Tango; Rondino on a theme by BEETHOVEN; Caprice viennois, Op. 2; WEBER: Larghetto; Zigeuner-Capriccio; WIENIAWSKI: Caprice in E-flat Major; Liebesleid; Tambourin chinois; DVORAK: Slavonic Dance, Op. 72, No. 2; Recitativo and Scherzo, Op. 6; GLAZUNOV: Serenade espagnole; GRANADOS: Danse espagnole; La Precieuse; Syncopation; Liebesfreud – Shlomo Mintz, violin/ Cliford Benson, p. – PentaTone PTC 5186 228 multichannel (4.0) RQR SACD, 53:54 [Distr. by Naxos]  ****:

Originally released by DGG in stereo in 1981, this remastered Kreisler recital combines the violinist’s own compositions with the more notable transcriptions he made from other composers’ works.   In all, we have Shlomo Mintz in 17 compositions, ably assisted by Clifford Benson.  At the time, Mintz had boasted of a “Kreisler renaissance” he felt loomed on the horizon. For the most part, the pungent miking captures Mintz in suave form, with an occasional piece – like the Zigeuner-Capriccio – that allows Benson to display some fascinating touches and plastic bravura.  Mintz himself adds the requisite vibrato and gypsy sizzle to those pieces whose innate sentiment – like the Dvorak e minor Slavonic Dance – permits the Viennese manner more throttle, especially in the fluent transition between registers on the Mintz Gaurnerius del Gesu 1700.  Razor sharp intonation makes Wieniawski’s E-flat Caprice a minor marvel, with its high harmonics and air of nonchalant bravura.

Several performances stand out, among them the solo, virtuosic Rectitativo and Scherzo-Caprice, Op. 6, which has parallels to Ravel’s Tzigane. The Presto e brillante section flares up in a manner thoroughly imitative of Paganini or Wieniawski, blistering and demanding at once in spiccati and bow-position shifts.  That the violin can imitate a guitar comes forth in several of the works, such as the Glazunov Serenade and the Albeniz Tango. In the Glazunov, we can virtually imagine the mantillas and flourishes of the Spanish senoras. What we miss is that splendid transcription of the Falla Spanish Dance. Benson supplies a dazzling, erotically charge bass for the Granados Spanish Dance; and yet, in its milder episodes, the collaboration achieves an arresting intimacy. The “purely” Viennese compositions, like “La Precieuse” and the diptych Liebesleid and Liebesfreud, enjoy a natural inflection that both charms and scintillates. The Joplinesque “Syncopation” conveys its own special charisma, as do the standards Caprice viennois and Tambourin chinois, ‘ethnic’ pieces seen through the lens of the most civilized city in the world.  [The writer’s opinion…Ed.]

—Gary Lemco

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