Filtering by Category: KreislerRecording

Publico Newspaper - Portugal 17/10/14

"It is apparent that there is growing interest from musicians, musicologists and editors in the repertoire of the virtuosos of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In general, these musicians composed for their own recitals showing their sweeping musical qualities. One of the great virtuosi who was born in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and whose longevity allowed him to know the 60s of last century, thus giving a considerable recording legacy that bears witness to the tradition of Romanticism, was Fritz Kreisler, Viennese violinist (1875-1962). His music is no exception to the example of his peers and does not tolerate less than perfect technique, requiring performers of the highest caliber, those who make it look easy in the hard passages and give charm to the simplest melody.

The English violinist Jack Liebeck, with his 1785 Guadagnini, and the Russian pianist Katya Apekisheva are are such rare interpreters and make this CD a glorious monument to legacy of Kreisler. They have already made a brilliant record of Brahms. Now they prepare the ears for different environments, for suggestive rhythms, of dances, to passionate melodies, for intricate effects, but especially for rare and fascinating musical intuition. In addition to several original Kreisler pieces there are also his arrangements for violin and piano of famous works of Gluck, De Falla, Dvořák and Tartini. This is a CD that no violinist or any avid music lover learning the repertoire should stop listening. Do not expect any sign of modernity, just more refined maturity of Romanticism."


Diapason Magazine - France


"Kreisler travels through time without a wrinkle. Jack Liebeck, a violinist from England is not well known on this side of the Channel, shows great spirit. He understands that we must not exaggerate to deliver delicacy as well as playfulness. 

With a real talent as a storyteller, he qualifies the characters in flexible tempos. A whimsical bow, a coaxing tone, a natural grace and virtuosity exalt the seduction of these miniatures. Liebeck penetrates the intimate tenderness (Melody taken from Gluck's Orpheus) with sensuality, supported by a clever and tactful partner. We fall under the spell of these readings, a little nothing (Syncopation, Polichinelle), its elegant and subtle rubatos portamentos (Dvorak). Often burning (Recitative and Scherzo, Tambourine Chinois) this violinist shows a nice balance between passion and candor (Falla), naivety and playfulness (Toy Soldiers' March), and everywhere reveals an endearing spontaneity. 

Besides the famous Caprice Viennese, Liebesleid and Liebesfreud, rarer pieces will be heard such as the Viennese March Miniature or La Chasse, in which Jack Liebeck is a measure of inventiveness. The album closes on a poignant vision of the ornate "Devil's Trill" by Tartini, the Viennese master rewarded with a dangerous pace. 

A nice lesson in style, decorated with an excellent introductory text signed by Tully Potter."

Diapason Magazine June 2014 - ***** 5 star

Fanfare Magazine Sept/Oct 2014

Jack Liebeck and Katya Apekisheva’s recital of pieces written or transcribed by Fritz Kreisler opens with the one often cited as Kreisler’s best, the Praeludium and Allegro in the Style of [Gaetano] Pugnani. Kreisler himself never recorded it, although Carl Flesch remembered that he took the Allegro no faster than MM=120. Kreisler must have played the work with the marked personality he displayed in pieces he did record; and though others have perhaps surpassed him in sheer technique, his recordings of his own works still sound incomparably haunting. Zino Francescatti endowed the Praeludium and Allegro with a sense of fancy that could seem almost wayward or headstrong; but Kreisler himself admired Francescatti’s playing. After Francescatti, Liebeck sounds tame, though crisp and determined. He seems more yielding in the Syncopation, and perhaps even more so in Schön Rosmarin, investing it with a charm and sensibility that may not be echt Viennese but isn’t bland, either. He brings an aching sense of yearning to Liebesleid and a heady razor-sharpness to Liebesfreud. All the while, he seems to have achieved these insights largely by avoiding a fussy concentration on detail (I’ve noticed that Kreisler’s playing wasn’t self-conscious in that way, either). Polichinelle sounds cockier and more strutting than it sometimes does and might provide an object lesson for students in character sketching. Liebeck’s reading of Tambourin chinois may not be particularly quick, but it’s sharply articulated and buoyant nonetheless. Kreisler’s arrangement of Gluck’s Mélodie (from Orfeo ed Euridice) provides a vehicle for Liebeck’s suavest singing manner; he’s engaging in the Toy Soldiers’ March—some may feel more engaging than the music itself warrants. La Chasse, perhaps inspired by the many pieces so denominated in Jean-Baptiste Cartier’s monumental collection L’Art du violon also may seem to lack character, but it’s a survivor from the early age of genre pieces as filtered through Kreisler’s antiquarian sensibilities—and now, Liebeck’s. Francescatti played Caprice viennois with breathtaking verve, making it almost his own. That that’s no mean feat appears from Eugène Ysaÿe’s almost laughably lugubrious version (although who would laugh at Ysaÿe?) of the slower section. Liebeck’s reading may not exhibit Francescatti’s panache, but it’s hardly lacking in personality (and Apekisheva sounds skittish at the end). The Allegretto in the Style of [Luigi] Boccherini sounds less strongly individual than does Kreisler’s version of Manuel de Falla’s Danse espagnole from La vida breve—a reading by Liebeck that flashes virtuosically and smolders with passionate ardor. Kreisler’s arrangement of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance receives a similarly idiomatic reading from the duo. Liebeck comes out of the corner punching in Kreisler’s Marche miniature viennoise, though he relaxes into geniality in its middle section. The program closes with two of its most virtuosic works. The first of these, Recitativo and Scherzo for solo violin, may capture some of Ysaÿe’s style of playing, but Liebeck doesn’t indulge these gauzier aspects of the piece’s personality. He still sounds stentorian, though, on the G-string of the 1785 Wilhelmj Joannes Baptista Guadagnini.

The second of the concluding virtuoso showstoppers also represents the longest of the works: Kreisler’s arrangement of Giuseppe Tartini’s Sonata in G Minor, “The Devil’s Trill.” Kreisler in some ways tamed Tartini, for example in the second movement, in which Kreisler’s version takes the trills from the lower, rather than from the flintier upper, note. And the first movement of Tartini’s “original” comes supplied with double-stops. Arthur Grumiaux’s version sounded exceptionally elegant several generations ago, but so does Liebeck’s nowadays, in the smoothness of his style in the first movement and in the boldness of his opening strokes (and the cheerful bouncing of his bow) in the second. Tully Potter writes in the booklet notes about the stamina required in the cadenza, but my experience of playing and teaching the sonata leads me to appreciate the way in which Kreisler achieved an effect in the cadenza so much more hair-raising (and with so much less effort) than that in Tartini’s much more hand-wrenchingly difficult recollection, from a dream, of the Devil’s own trill. That fiction (Tartini easy, Kreisler difficult) could be perpetuated by a version as sulfurous as Liebeck’s.

Some violinists and aficionados of Kreisler’s compositions—and less specialized listeners as well—may feel that Liebeck seems most at home in the arrangements of works by Falla and Dvořák; but he’s generally convincing throughout the program, and so is Apekisheva where the music allows her to be. The release can be warmly recommended as a generally well-played program with several very, very high spots and with overall reverberant and life-like recorded sound. Robert Maxham - Kreisler - May 2014

"The world of the Viennese salon comes to life in this beautifully structured programme drawn from Fritz Kreisler’s finest miniatures. Too often the great violinist’s original pieces, pastiches and transcriptions are confined to the encore department; only a few of them are recorded frequently enough. It is a particular treat to hear a collection as sympathetic and well-contrasted as Liebeck and Apekisheva’s.

The spirit of Kreisler’s idiom has become notoriously hard to capture around a century on, and the atmosphere’s balance of ‘schwung’, nostalgia, charm, eloquence and sparkle sometimes eludes stressed-out modern virtuosos. Not so Liebeck, who together with his sympathetic pianist aims for the bullseye and strikes true.

The programme opens with the Praeludium and Allegro – an ideal starter with its faux-Baroque grandeur. The waltzes – Schön Rosmarin, Liebesleid and Liebesfreud – catch just the right airy Straussian rhythm, complete with subtle rubato, and the ragtime charm of Syncopation feels lamplit and sepia-toned.

Numbers such as the Marche miniature viennoise and Danse espagnole become huge fun, with the Gluck Mélodie (the ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ from Orfeo ed Euridice) an unexpected oasis of tranquility. The idiom’s intimacy lets us feel that Liebeck is not merely playing to us, but engaging in conversation. Once he is unleashed on the Kreisler arrangement of Tartini’s ‘Devil’s Trill’ Sonata, however, you realise he has been holding back the full power of his tone, ready for appreciation in the bigger work. Apekisheva provides vigorous, sprightly rhythm and tender counterpoint at the keyboard.

In a word: gorgeous."

Jessica Duchen


The Observer - Kreisler - 27/4/14

"This cracking box of Fritz Kreisler fireworks marks the beginning of young violinist Jack Liebeck's partnership with Hyperion. It might seem a conventional way to start – most major talents feel the need to tackle Kreisler's work on disc – but these are so refreshingly bright and zestful they feel like new pieces. The instantly familiar Praeludium and Allegro, for example, is dismissed with exhilarating haste, as is Kreisler's immensely demanding transcription of Dvorák's E minor Slavonic Dance. But perhaps the most impressive performance in the entire collection is the conquering of Kreisler's adaptation of Tartini's Devil's Trill sonata, which surrenders completely to Liebeck and Katya Apekisheva's formidable technique."

The Strad Magazine - Kreisler - May 2014

"Jack Liebeck and Katya Apekisheva have stripped away the sugary coating that has, over the years, surrounded Fritz Kreisler’s original compositions and revealed pleasing duets and often interesting conversational pieces where the piano plays an equal role. Eighteen tracks contain his best known works, Liebesleid, Liebesfreud and Tambourin chinois, together with a sprinkling of the less frequently performed pieces including the Toy Soldiers’ March and the highly energised La chasse.

Liebeck seems a little anxious to push the tempo forward at the opening of the Praeludium and Allegro, but elsewhere tempos and the adherence to the printed dynamic markings are unfailingly accurate. Of course we remember and cherish Kreisler’s recordings with his wide and warm vibrato in such works as Polichinelle and Marche miniature viennoise, but although Liebeck’s tone, by comparison, is more open and vibrant, both violinists share the serious approach that is a long way from the throwaway encores we normally hear. An outgoing show of violin virtuosity is left until the end with quite superb accounts of the Recitative and Scherzo, and Kreisler’s arrangement of Tartini’s ‘Devil’s Trill’ Sonata.

The engineers provide an ideal balance and pleasing sound to complete an outstanding release." 

International Record Review - Kreisler - April 2014

"This estimable Kreisler compilation from the young British violinist jack Liebeck heralds his new alliance with Hyperion, and one could hardly imagine a more propitious start to their relationship. Kreisler anthologies are two a penny, though, and while every fiddler feels duty bound to tackle this repertoire at some point, surprisingly few have the musical intelligence needed to make themselves sound much more than sycophantic pretenders. But Liebeck is no run-of-the mill plagiarist and nor (as his recent Dvorak and Brahms CDs for Sony testify) is he an apologist for being different for the sake of it, and these disarmingly affectionate and often brilliant accounts of these Kreisler favourites prove unusually satisfying.

Time was, and not so very long ago, when great violinists were instantly distinguished by their own sound, so one could recognize a Heifetz, Elman, Szigeti or Huberman from just a cursory hearing. But none was more individual or distinctive than Fritz Kreisler himself, and the bewitching subtlety and inimitable Viennese gemütlichkeit of his playing remains incredibly difficult to emulate convincingly. Perhaps that's why Liebeck never tries to, and in remaining faithful to his own playing style, he and his dextrous accompanist Katya Apekisheva bring abundant freshness and spontaneity to these accounts.

How Kreisler finally admitted passing off pieces of his own as original works by little-known Classical and Baroque masters need not be repeated here, and Liebeck includes most of the usual suspects, astutely chosen from Kreisler's perennial 'Classical Manuscripts', 'Masterworks of the Violin' and 'Original Compositions', but there are several less familiar pieces here, too, including the Marche miniature viennoise and Toy Soldiers' March. Liebeck and Apekisheva begin their recital with the Praeludium and Allegro, which gets a nobly severe, urgent reading, nearly a minute faster than the great Oscar Shumsky's on Nimbus, the modern violinist who came closest of all to faithfully distilling the true a essence of Kreisler's artistry in his own peerless recordings of these works. Turning to the exquisite Viennese triptych of Schön Rosmarin, Liebsfreud and Liebesleid, it seemed useful to compare Liebeck's performances with Kreisler's. One can only admire the way Liebeck infuses these familiar bon-bons with touches of winning originality which appear genuinely spontaneous, though nobody, not even Shumsky, quite manages to re-create Kreisler's inimitable rubato in Schön Rosmarin. 

Particularly superb are the transcriptions of Dvorak's F minor Slavonic Dance, Op. 72 No. 2 and the 'Dance espagnole' from Falla's La vida breve, both of which are hugely demanding for the violinist and played with elan and bravura here by Liebeck. Only in the Dvorak transcription does one miss the subdued introspection which Kreisler himself brought to the poignant main theme. Tambourin chinois gets a convincingly idiomatic reading, too, though Liebeck's deft glissandos are so metrically accurate as to sound a little clinical and even a tad self-conscious alongside Shunasky's, and even more markedly, beside Kreisler s own, where the unforced naturalness of his playing carries the day. Still, there's no gainsaying the panache and precision of Liebeck's account, which is sure to delight.

The problem, if there is one, is that Liebeck's performances inhabit an entirely different sound-world. Where both Shurnsky and Kreisler himself could modulate and nuance their vibrato in a thousand different ways, and not just alter its speed and amplitude, contemporary fiddlers (and I'd count Liebeck amongst them) have by and large lost the true art of vibrato, with everything subsumed by a tonal homogeneity and uniformity that can rob music like this of its essential charm and intimacy.

Still, this is unquestionably a Kreisler disc to which I'll he returning often and always with pleasure, for these spirited and discerning readings have so much to commend them as to make even minor qualms seem churlish. Liebeck and Apekisheva are heard at their brilliant best in Kreisler's own formidably taxing reworking of the G minor 'Devil's Trill' Sonata by Tartini. There is indeed something of the Mephistophelean about this astounding account and Liebeck sounds stunning in Kreisler's intimidating cadenza. A fitting climax to a warm-hearted and generous compilation, even if one occasionally misses Shumsky's gravitas and Kreisler's ineffable geniality."

Michael Jamieson