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David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2010

Fritz Kreisler had already become a living legend of the violin by the time the fledgling record industry could tempt him into the studios. Though Viennese-born he was to spend much time in London, and it was in 1911 that he made a number of discs for The Gramophone Company to be released on the HMV label. They were mainly of his own works—including Liebesleid, Liebesfreud, Caprice viennois and Schon Rosmarin—and many which he passed off as the work of famous composers of yesteryear before he admitted his deception. They didn’t in any way test his immense technique, but they were commercially orientated salon pieces well within the realms of the amateur violinist, though they were sometimes printed in simplified versions. Other ‘pop’ classics—Tchaikovsky’s Chant sans paroles, and the Fifth Hungarian Dance by Brahms offer a change of scene. In the quest to make this release complete, the CD offers the alternative takes that Kreisler made, though they seem to differ little and may well have been asked for so the engineers could experiment with sound. We then move to New York in 1912 when he was recording some of the same material for The Victor Talking Machine Company, though it was well known that he rarely played the same piece twice in the same way. Even in that short period there had been a considerable improvement in the sound they could capture of the piano accompaniment. Much thanks must go to Ward Marston for his superb restoration, though it is remarkable that copies of the originals still exist in such quality.

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