Kreisler Violin Music
4 CD SET
Hailed by David Oistrakh as "one of the world's greatest violinists", Shumsky studied with the famed pedagogue Leopold Auer until the late 1920s. He then continued his studies with Efrem Zimbalist at the Curtis Institute until 1938. He developed a generous and firm tone, faultless intonation and a facility with technical skills. To these can be added a certain 'musical sizzle' that later contributed to his signature 'Shumsky Sound'. He enjoyed enormous esteem among discriminating music lovers and professionals alike. His cycles of Bach Sonatas and Partitas and Mozart Violin Sonatas remained highly treasured by connoisseurs. Here is a near complete collection of Kreisler's musical output for the string instrument. This four disc collection is a tribute from one great violinist to another. It is no discredit to Kaye or Wolfram that the focus remains overwhelmingly on Shumsky throughout. Again and again these recordings assert his right to stand in the "Hall of Fame" alongside so many other violin legends.
Patrick P.L. Lam, MusicWeb-International
CD 1 Playing time 77:00
Viennese: 1. Austrian Imperial Hymn (violin alone) 2:54 2. Caprice Viennois 3:51 3. Liebesfreud 3:24 4. Liebesleid 3:48 5. Schon Rosmarin 1:57 6. Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta 8:18
Works “in the style of”: 7. Praeludium and Allegro (Pugnani) 5:50 8. Allegretto (Boccherini) 3:33 9. Allegretto (Porpora) 4:07 10. La Chasse (Cartier) 2:01 11. Grave (W. F. Bach) 3:39 12. Sicilienne et Rigaudon (Francoeur) 4:18 13. Tempo di Menuetto (Pugnani) 3:44
Dvorak / Kreisler: 14. Humoresque 3:23 15. Slavonic Dance No. 1 in G Minor 3:23 16. Slavonic Dance No. 2 in E Minor 4:59 17. Slavonic Dance No. 3 in G Major 4:43 18. Indian Lament 4:24 19. Slavonic Fantasy on “Songs My Mother Taught Me” 4:43
CD 2 Playing time 71:46
Original: 1. La Gitana 2:56 2. Cavatina 3:30 3. Toy Soldiers’ March 2:02 4. Recitative and Scherzo-Caprice (violin alone) 5:14 5. Shepherd’s Madrigal 4:46 6. Gypsy Caprice 5:08
Tartini / Corelli: 7. Variations on a Theme by Corelli 3:17 8. Fuge (Tartini / Kreisler) 3:38 9. Sarabande and Allegretto (Corelli / Kreisler) 4:09 10. La Folia (Corelli / Kreisler) 10:40
Tartini: Concerto in the Style of Vivaldi 12:15 11. Devil’s Trill Sonata (Tartini / Kreisler) 14:11
CD 3 Playing time 50:30
Kreisler: 1. Tambourin Chinois 3:50
Tchaikovsky / Kreisler: 2. Andante cantabile 5:59 3. Humoresque 2:52 4. Chant sans paroles 3:09 5. Scherzo 3:58
Traditional: 6. Londonderry Air (“Danny Boy”) 4:34
Grainger / Kreisler: 7. Molly on the Shore 2:42
Works “in the style of”: 8. Chanson Louis XIII et Pavane (Couperin) 3:53 9. Scherzo (Dittersdorf) 3:22 10. La Precieuse (Couperin) 3:17 11. Andantino (Martini) 4:05 12. Tambourin (Leclair) 2:19 13. Aubade Provençale (Couperin) 2:31 14. Minuett (Porpora) 3:58
CD 4 Playing time 50:18
Classical: 1. Impromptu (Schubert / Kreisler) 5:28 2. Ballet Music from Rosamunde (Schubert / Kreisler) 1:58 3. Moment Musical (Schubert / Kreisler) 1:57 4. Larghetto (Weber) 2:20 5. Hungarian Rondo (Haydn) 3:19 6. Melodie - “Orpheus” (Gluck) 3:07 7. Rondo - “Haffner” Serenade (Mozart) 7:13
Romantic: 8. Hungarian Dance (Brahms) 4:02 9. Romance (Schumann) 4:31 10. Song Without Words (Mendelssohn) 2:57
Spanish: 11. Malaguena (Albéniz) 3:52 12. Tango (Albéniz) 2:14 13. Spanish Dance (Granados) 3:54 14. Danse Espagnole from La vida breve (Falla) 3:25
"Oscar Shumsky has a gorgeous tone and is a supreme stylist in this repertoire." The Penguin Guide
"I’ve been an addict of Shumsky’s for many years and count his London appearances as one of the higher points in my concert-going. One hears things about his more abrasive side but that’s not a consideration when faced with appreciation of his recordings. It was certainly fortunate that some companies at least clamoured to record him.
Nimbus has here collated the Kreisler recordings Shumsky made with Milton Kaye and William Wolfram and shaped them into four well-filled CDs. Long kinship with them has probably rendered me less articulate than usual regarding the many delights enshrined here; the virile yet sensitively artful vibrato, the purposeful yet stylistically apt use of rubato, the occasional period portamento, the whole ethos as evoked by Shumsky being one of ineffable rightness.
Just a few signpost pointers from me as to the glories on offer, then. The first disc divides in to neat paragraphs; Viennese, works ‘in the style of,’ and Dvořák-Kreisler. I needn’t vouch for the Praeludium and Allegro, masterful and masculine, clean of execution, invincible in rhythm; I should note one of my own special favourites – the ‘Pugnani’ Tempo di Menuetto - which is a model of how such things should be played. True, the acoustic accorded the Dvořák-Kreisler items is a great deal more billowing than elsewhere and slightly blunts things but that’s a small matter really when one can appreciate the legato in the Slavonic Dance No.1 in G Minor and the affectingly traversed Indian Lament.
The second disc delves into Originals, and Tartini and Corelli. How skittishly Shumsky scampers through the very fast central variations of the Variations on a Theme by Corelli. To be fair La Folia is more Kreisler than Corelli but the refreshing playing is the focus and splendid it is. Tartini’s Concerto in the Style of Vivaldi is bracing, dramatic and strongly argued with an especially appealingly sung slow movement. The Devil's Trill Sonata is quite measured. One of Kreisler’s bigger challenges and most impressive originals is the Recitative and Scherzo-Caprice which is winningly done.
The third disc offers a range of pleasures from an original, to Tchaikovsky, Traditional, Grainger and more ‘in the style of’. He plays Tambourin Chinois with full awareness of a battery of expressive nuances, not simply portamenti but vibrato usage and speed, rubati and a phalanx of left and right hand devices that vest the music with idiomatic charm. One thing is true with Shumsky, as one would expect of a player who heard his idol Kreisler at first hand; these devices come from within and always sound natural. His Londonderry Air is slower than Kreisler and that generation of fiddle players habitually took it. Chanson Louis XIII et Pavane is elegant but not suave and in this selection of ‘in the style of’ pieces there is not one extraneous gesture, not one hint of gaucherie.
The final disc divides into Classical, Romantic and Spanish. There’s a delectable trio of Schubert pieces from the first category and Kreisler’s only arrangement of a Brahms Hungarian Dance from the Romantics. It’s No.17 in E sharp minor. Schumann’s Romance sounds glorious in this performance and the Albéniz pieces do full justice to their transcriber.
Memorable performances then which offer a locus classicus as to how to approach this repertory. Fortunately Shumsky had two able though very different colleagues at the keyboard and together they set a high standard. One notes the different acoustics but overwhelmingly one acknowledges the wonderful and imaginatively phrased playing, as captivating today as when it was first recorded."
Jonathan Woolf, Musicweb-international.com