Thursday, 20 April 2017

Fritz Kreisler's Early Recordings

Fritz Kreisler was already 29 years old when he made his first recordings in 1904, followed by a second batch in 1910. Naxos issued his complete recordings, with the early ones being excellently re-mastered by Ward Marston. I have just been listening to the early recordings, starting with 1904, with a great deal of pleasure.

Despite being recorded well over 100 years ago, the essence of Kreisler's playing comes over as if it were yesterday: his burnished, golden tone; his deeply singing double-stops; his unmatched sense of rubato; his legendary bowing dexterity; his impeccable sense of style. And, over and above all that, the famous geniality of the man communicates itself. Everyone loved Fritz Kreisler, from audiences to fellow violinists. Even hyper-competitive Jascha Heifetz loved Kreisler and his playing ever since hearing him at a concert in Vilnius when Heifetz was still very young. A photo of Kreisler always hung in Heifetz's music room, the only violinist so honoured.

Repertoire was unavoidably limited back in the old days of acoustic recording, all gathered round a big horn that acted as a microphone. But despite the limitations of repertoire, and despite the prevalence of extensive portamento, these old Kreisler acoustic recordings are ones to cherish and to listen to with pleasure every year or so. No one now plays like Fritz Kreisler, more's the pity.

No comments: