This collection of Fritz Kreisler recordings comes from Britain's Living Era imprint, which has issued fine single-artist compilations in both classical and pop realms. They were made in Germany, England, and America, and date from 1926 to 1946 -- really the peak years of Kreisler's career, although the ones Kreisler recorded after he was hit by a truck in New York and spent four weeks in a coma are thought by some to be inferior. The difference is slight indeed, however, and one of these, the Violin Concerto in C major in the Style of Vivaldi, is not so often heard. These "in the style of" works were originally passed off by Kreisler as music by the original composers, and in a time when Vivaldi was unknown to everyone but a handful of specialists, who could tell? What's striking today is how little the music sounds like Vivaldi; if Tchaikovsky had written a "Vivaldiana," it might have turned out something like this. Hearing a generous sampling of Kreisler makes one realize how often he dealt in music that was ersatz in some way, but no less enjoyable as a result. He favored not real ethnic music but attenuated versions of ethnic styles, weaving their rhythms and cadences into his feathery, sentimental style. His famed La Gitana and many of his Viennese-flavored pieces show his incorporation of Romany idioms, and he easily made the transition to faux-Irish (Percy Grainger's Irish Tune from County Derry, aka the Londonderry Air, aka Danny Boy) and even faux-African-American music (Stephen Foster's Old Folks at Home, Kreisler's rendition of which is affecting indeed). The big hits (Schön Rosmarin, etc.) are here, bunched at the beginning, but there are plenty of more unusual items, concert encores of a vanished era that audiences newly attuned to Kreisler are beginning to rediscover. The original 78s used here have been nicely cleaned up and remastered well, and for anybody who's heard Joshua Bell's Kreisler and wondered about the real thing, this disc makes an excellent introduction.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
The Old Refrain, for violin & piano (transcription of Johann Brandl's "Du alter Stefansturm" from Der liebe Augustin)
|Violin Concerto in the style of Vivaldi in C major|
|The King Steps Out, film score|