Kreisler bell 850222

Fritz Kreisler (violin)
The Bell Telephone Hour Recordings – Volume 3
Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra/Donald Voorhees
BIDDULPH 85022-2 [75]

The third volume in this series reprises the non-chronological sequence of the earlier two, once again preferring to range across the breadth of Kreisler’s recordings, preserved on acetates, made for Bell Telephone and its eponymous orchestra. It’s clear that Kreisler and Donald Voorheees used the opportunity of these radio broadcasts either to prepare for imminent recordings for Victor or to tacitly promote recordings they’d just made which were often – but not always – album sets. This was a handy use of their time and to an extent justified Kreisler’s appearance; he had always refused to broadcast until very late in his career.

Everything here is either composed or arranged by him. His trademark favourites are here, two recorded on New Year’s Day 1945 and four on 16 April later in the year. Schön Rosmarin had been recorded with the Victor Symphony and Charles O’Connell a couple of years earlier for an album, as had a number of others (five pieces in all), but Kreisler is on good form and plays Caprice viennois with especial charm. Even as late as 1950 he was unveiling a lesser-known piece like Malagueña – not to be confused with his Albéniz arrangement – alongside his favourites.

His arrangements occupy the first half of the disc and are inevitably more problematic, stylistically, given the nature of the accompanying band. He opens with the Haydn ‘Rondo all’ongarese’ where Voorhees can’t manage to mitigate the distracting orchestral backing which verges on the kitsch. This was one of the many pieces he had already recorded with Voorhees for Victor. Mozart’s ‘Haffner’ Serenade is notable for the cadential passage which Kreisler plays excellently. Unfortunately, the copy used is less than stellar and suffers audible damage all the way through. Tonally, the Chanson Louis XIII and Pavane is especially lovely.

The confection Kreisler wrote which he called Concerto in C ‘in the style of Vivaldi’ was recorded on two occasions, a year apart. The earlier date, 16 April 1945, contained the first movement only and was a run-through for the Victor recording on 2 May. It’s all engagingly played, especially the pathos of the central slow movement, though it’s an index of how little Vivaldi was known by the popular audience. Kreisler the operetta animal is represented by music from his now little-known Sissy but as a performance his arrangement of Heuberger’s ‘Midnight Bells’ is characteristically lovely.

In fact, Kreisler is on consistently good form throughout this album, notwithstanding his age. The copies used are in generally good condition, with the sole exception as noted, and the notes sympathetic.

Jonathan Woolf

Presto Music

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Piano Trio No. 39 in G major, Hob.XV:25: Finale ‘Rondo all’ongarese’ arr. Fritz Kreisler
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Serenade No. 7 in D major, K250 ‘Haffner’ – Rondo arr. Fritz Kreisler
Johann Brandl (1760-1837)
The Old Refrain: Du alter Stefansturm from Der liebe Augustin arr. Fritz Kreisler
Richard Heuberger (1850-1914)
Midnight Bells: Im chambre séparée from Der Opernball arr. Fritz Kreisler
Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)
Chanson Louis XIII and Pavane (In the style of Couperin)
Violin Concerto in C major ‘In the style of Vivaldi’
Stars In My Eyes: Ich wär’ so gern einmal verliebt from Sissy (The King Steps Out)
Marche miniature viennoise
Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta
Rondino on a Theme by Beethoven
Schön Rosmarin
Caprice Viennois, Op. 2
Tambourin Chinois, Op. 3
Londonderry Air arr Kreisler