Albéniz/Kreisler - Tango, Op165 No. 2;
Dvorak/Kreisler - Slavonic
Dances: B78: No 2 in E minor; B145: No 2 in E minor;
Falla/Kreisler - La vida breve
- Danse espagnole;
Andaluza, Op 37 No 5;
Kreisler - Caprice Viennois, Op 2. Tambourin chinois, Op
3. Berceuse romantique, Op 9. Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta. Zigeuner-capriccio.
La gitana. Polichinelle. Aucassin and Nicolette. Liebesleid. Liebesfreud.
Scott/Kreisler Lotus Land, Op47 No 1
Etude-Caprice Op l8 No 4.
Leonidas Kavakos (vn), Peter
BIS CD 1196 DDD
The story is well known how Kreisler played many of the short works he used
as encores in his concerts as being unknown works of almost unknown composers,
only later in life admitting that they were his own compositions. Kreisler
was, without doubt, the most famous and admired violinist of the first part
of the twentieth century. His compositions are justly popular and any recording
has to answer the question 'what has this to offer over Kreisler's own
recordings?' (which are available in quite acceptable sound). At this test
most new versions stumble and I was intrigued to see how this new recording
The new BIS recording is presented with a not particularly attractive cover
picture, but there are excellent notes by Horst A. Scholz.
First impressions of excellent lively performances were confirmed by detailed
listening and careful comparisons of some items with original recordings
by Kreisler. The violin tone is excellent throughout, the performances and
sound remarkably like those of the composer in their warmth and elegance.
Perhaps even more importantly in this music, like Kreisler, Kavakos is a
master of phrasing and of subtleties of rhythm. However these performances
are not just carbon copies of Kreisler but tend to be played marginally slower,
giving a slightly cooler melancholy where appropriate. Peter Nagy's accompaniment
is exemplary throughout and the recording is superb.
The programme opens with the seldom played Viennese Rhapsodic
Fantasietta, which provides the name of the recording. This illustrates
Kavakos' mastery of the Viennese waltz tradition and has a marvellous
bitter-sweet feeling. Kreisler was clearly fascinated by music in the Spanish
idiom and his arrangements of pieces by Albéniz, Falla and Granados
are played exceptionally well. The arrangement of Cyril Scott's Lotus
Land with its Far Eastern flavour is played with exceptionally haunting
beauty. The Dvorak arrangements, especially the Slavonic Fantasy,
are very interesting and more substantial than many of the works played here
(but I do wish that the famous arrangement of Humoresque had been
included). Rightly Kreisler's original compositions dominate the disc and
demonstrate what a wide range of music he wrote; only Zigeuner-Capriccio
is longer (just) than five minutes, but what a lot of little gems are
presented for our delectation.
A major strength of the disc is the order of presentation. With this kind
of music it is easy to play too many short works of the same style which
becomes wearisome. Here however the music is presented as a well planned
recital and it can be played right through in one sitting with enjoyment.
This disc gives enormous pleasure and is a genuine alternative to Kreisler's