The Kreisler Collection 1921-25

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The Kreisler Collection 1921-25

  • (16) Waltzes, No. 15 in A flat
  • Lyric Pieces, Book 3, No. 6, To the Spring (An den Frühling)
  • Melody
  • Souvenir
  • Aucassin and Nicolette, 'Canzonetta medievale'
  • Toy Soldier's march
  • (The) Golden Cockerel, '(Le) Coq d'Or', Hymn to the Sun
  • Scheherazade, The Young Prince and Princess
  • Scheherazade, Festival at Baghdad The Sea The Shipwreck
  • Pale moon
  • (2) Pieces, Lotus Land
  • Cherry ripe
  • Mazurkas (Complete), No. 23 in D, Op. 33/2 (1837-38)
  • Miscellanea, Mélodie in G flat
  • (Der) Opernball, 'Opera Ball', Im chambre separée
  • Entr'acte
  • Love sends a little gift of roses
  • (The) world is waiting for the sunrise
  • Symphony No. 96, 'Miracle', Menuetto
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Canzonetta: Andante
  • Old French Gavotte
  • (3) Morceaux, Slavonic Lament
  • (7) Marionnettes, Poupée valsante
  • Molly on the shore
  • Dirge of the north
  • (Die) tote Stadt, Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen (Pierrotlied)
  • Serse, 'Xerxes', ~, Ombra mai fu (Largo)
  • Souvenir de Hapsal, No. 3, Chant sans paroles
  • Chansonette
  • (Der) Liebe Augustin, Du alter Stephansturm (The Old Refrain)
  • Melody
  • Orange Blossoms, A kiss in the dark
  • Caprice viennois
  • Caprice antique
  • Legend of the Canyon
  • Symphonie espagnole, Scherzando (Allegro molto)
  • (La) Ritrovata Figlia di Ottone II
  • Paraphrase on two Russian folksongs
  • Aloha Oe
  • Symphony No. 9, 'From the New World', Largo
  • (4) American Indian songs, From the land of the sky-blue water
  • I saw from the beach
  • (15) Songs, No. 7, To the children (wds. Khomyakov)
  • (15) Songs, No. 10, Before my window (wds. Galina)
  • (4) Lieder, No. 4, Morgen (wds. J H Mackay: orch 1897)
  • Padriac the Fiddler
  • Anna Magdalena Notenbuch, He shall feed his flock, Minuet in G, BWVAnh114 (Petzold)

Fritz Kreisler's art does not travel comfortably into the 1990s, it's far too angst-free for our troubled age, too unequivocally sincere and lacking in cynicism. And yet it is the most wonderful violin playing imaginable, the sound of an old-world craftsman tending to every note as if it were holy writ, and no matter whether it is solo Bach or a popular song by Victor Herbert. The 48 recordings here, most of which were made via the horn rather than the microphone, are as many testimonies to an inimitable voice, one that even Kreisler's contemporaries revered and envied. The selections cover a four-and-a-half year chunk of his long-term contract with Victor and present him in surprisingly wide-ranging repertory. But don't start with the opening track, Brahms's fifteenth Waltz which, although rich-toned and robust, is not the equal of other selections. I'd advise dipping first into track 3, one of two recordings that Kreisler made of a Melody in A by former US Vice-President Charles G. Dawes (and strangely reminiscent of a much later pop song, It's all in the game) then to 8 and 9, which present cleverly turned extractions from the middle movements of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade.
Cyril Scott's rather dour transcription of Cherry ripe turns up twice, the second time in lieu of Kramer's Entr'acte, which is missing on the early pressings of the set (subsequent ones have been corrected). The other duplication (the Dawes Melody) is a second recording while a number of items were subsequently remade by Kreisler (often more than once) via the electrical recording process. Haydn and Bach are represented in tasteful arrangements, so are Chopin, Paderewski (his beautiful Melodie, Op. 16 No. 2), Tchaikovsky and Korngold (Pierrot's Dance Song). Then there are Kreisler's own pieces, movements from Tchaikovsky's Concerto and Lalo's Symphonie espagnole that were never issued on shellac, five songs with McCormack (made for HMV in a single day) and a transcription of Grainger's Molly on the Shore that suggests Kreisler would have been as at home in a Gaelic dance festival as in the Mendelssohn Concerto.
As to comparisons between these recordings and those that the violinist made later, little need be said other than that the earlier discs often reveal a surer and stronger left hand (you can sometimes actually hear his fingers press on the finger-board) and a flood of tone that, like Caruso's—or indeed McCormack's—was miraculously accommodated by the recording horn. And the transfers are among Ward Marstons's best, clean originals have been used (although the HMVs are noticeably noisier than most of the Victors), and there is no evidence of electronic 'doctoring'. Time spent with these CDs is time allocated to the most profound variety of nostalgia. It's the sort of playing that conjures up some long-forgotten, Utopian world where kindness and gracious manners reigned where all was well and every violinist sounded like Fritz Kreisler.'

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