Hartmut Schill / Rainer Schill

Tiramisù für die Seele: Caféhausmusik im Janssen

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"Tiramisù" isn't really quite the right concept for the violin encore pieces contained on this album, which are less sweet pick-me-ups than lyrical, melodic fare. The distinctive feature of the release is that it attempts to re-create a cafe atmosphere, with conversations going on in between and even during the musical performances. This is a novel idea, but the execution somehow feels unnatural, as if someone had held up signs telling the audience to converse, be quiet, applaud, and so on. On the plus side, violinist Hartmut Schill and pianist Rainer Schill resurrect a nice mix of pieces that for the most part might indeed have been heard in a Viennese cafe in the early decades of the 20th century. Then-ubiquitous pieces like Fritz Kreisler's Liebesleid mingle with obscure operetta tunes that often have an ethnic flair and remind the listener that the fundamental energy coming in this repertory from the meeting of Austria and Hungary was augmented as it developed by new flavors. Sample the "Hindu-Lied" from the rarely heard Rimsky-Korsakov opera Sadko (track 9) for a hint of the attraction; it doesn't sound Indian, but neither does it sound like the various European ethnic pieces on the program. The Schills, presumably siblings, deliver individual performances with plenty of flair, but there's too much sameness among the pieces, and the program doesn't quite take off. This is an intriguing experiment, though, and for listeners who are serving coffee in their own homes it could be just the ticket.

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