LABELS: Analekta Fleurs de lys
WORKS: Variations on a Theme by Corelli; Sicilienne and Rigaudon; The Devil’s Trill; Liebesleid; Liebesfreud
PERFORMER: James Ehnes (violin, piano), Eduard Laurel (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: FL 2 3159
This ‘very best of Kreisler’ programme is sensibly divided into two: after four of his mischievous pastiches of 18th-century masters and his arrangement of the Devil’s Trill Sonata come eight of his most popular Viennese bon-bons, the Recitativo and Scherzo for solo violin and (rarely heard and most imaginatively) the Petite valse for piano – a solo from Ehnes who proves as graceful a pianist as Kreisler himself. As a violinist, the Canadian is top-of-the-range luxury goods: the SOUND *e produces is ravishing, the intonation faultless, the articulation impeccable, all of which are employed with that one essential ingredient for Kreisler: charm. The clean-limned lines of the ‘classical masters’, buoyant, witty and elegant (including an impassioned account of the big cadenza interpolated in the Devil’s Trill Sonata) are matched by a playful lilt and heart-warming affection in the alt Wien numbers (perhaps he makes the main theme of Caprice viennois too much like a berceuse). The partnership with the refined Eduard Laurel strikes me as particularly happy and the recorded balance between the two is well-nigh perfect. The booklet notes (by Jacques-André Houle) are of the same standard. For my money, the most satisfying Kreisler programme and modern performances currently available – and that includes those by Bell, Mintz and Kennedy.