David's Review Corner
, October 2009
It was the violinist, Fritz Kreisler, who did much to establish the gramophone as part of our domestic furniture, while at the same time making his name famous around the world. Born in Vienna in 1875, he was, at the age of seven, the youngest student admitted to the Vienna Conservatoire, where his education included Bruckner as his teacher of composition. At the age of ten, and playing a three-quarter sized instrument, he won the Conservatoire Gold Medal, and then moved to Paris to continue his studies. Three years later he was touring the United States and there followed a long love affair with North America, eventually taking up residence there at the onset of the Second World War. Sadly it was also there that his career was cut short when knocked down crossing the road in New York. By then he had a prodigious number of recordings, this new release returning to his earliest sessions made in Berlin in 1904. They were cut on single-sided ten inch discs which restricted playing time, and even on the twelve inch discs used for sessions in 1910 he could only play works lasting around four minutes. So the twenty-four tracks are essentially ‘lollypops’, many composed by himself. It was not ‘showy’ playing, his fabulous technique at the service of the music, the spotless intonation and unfailing clarity in mercurial passages a constant delight. That these recordings have survived in such excellent condition is remarkable, and that Ward Marston could produce marvellous transfers speaks volumes of his dedication. The series, we are promised, will include every disc that Kreisler recorded, published and unpublished.