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Michael Jameson, December 2001

"Now, Kreisler's discography is becoming available on the Naxos Historical label, which already has released many of the violinist's neglected concerto recordings in often astonishingly detailed remasterings by Mark Obert-Thorn.

Here's a disc that features Kreisler's own compositions and transcriptions, though we're going to have to wait for most of his infamous 'Classical Manuscripts', the pieces he finally owned up to having written himself in the mid-1930s, creating a huge furor in the process. But the chief delight here will be the chance to hear the lovely Viennese salon encores, like 'Caprice Viennois', 'Liebesfreud', and 'Schon Rosmarin' in versions with orchestral accompaniment, with the Victor Symphony Orchestra under Charles O'Connell and Donald Voorhees. That's not to say that these orchestral performances outclass the electrical recordings Kreisler made of most of his encore pieces with Carl Lamson at the piano; they, of course, represent the summit of Kreisler's art. But as the orchestral versions don't get heard nearly so often, and because the orchestrations are often superb, this disc is immensely valuable, with even the cumbersomely titled 'Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta' sounding fresh, vigorous, and anything but derivative in this 1946 account.

Incidentally, the first five tracks were recorded in Philadelphia's Academy of Music in January, 1942, with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra masquerading as the 'Victor Symphony Orchestra' under Charles O'Connell. Happily, the engineers forgot to switch off the microphone feed at the end of 'Tambourin Chinois', and at the close you can just hear Kreisler saying to the players 'Beautiful!' The other performances here were recorded at the Lotos Club, New York, with a pick-up band also known as the Victor Symphony, or (in the case of the last three tracks) the RCA Victor Symphony. These are inimitable accounts, played as only Kreisler knew how. The new transfers are remarkably good, and this is a gem of a reissue. By the way, if you're wondering what became of Kreisler's "Concerto in C in the Style of Vivaldi", it's already appeared on Naxos (8110922), though Gil Shaham included it on a disc with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for DG, and both Oscar Shumsky (ASV) and Ulrika Anima-Mathe (Dorian) have recorded the 'Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta' in its version with piano. Shumsky alone came close to recreating the Kreisler style. Younger players just sound ridiculous when they try to imitate him, so why not have the real thing? Don't miss this wonderful disc!"

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