David Frühwirth’s collection of Romantic violin pieces claims world premieres of pieces by Hubay, Weill, Zimbalist, Glazunov, Wieniawski, Achron, Sitt, and Vieuxtemps (Bohemiènne: the other two Morceaux are Romance and Regrets); but Hagai Shaham recorded Achron’s piece on Biddulph LAW 021. Whatever the legitimacy of these claims, the collection offers a wealth of the unfamiliar (including the title piece) along with old chestnuts like Kreisler’s arrangements of Chopin’s Mazurka. Glazunov’s Waltz represents a coating of Tchaikovsky’s Valse-Scherzo with the buoyant sweetness of Drigo’s Serenade and Valse bluette. Wieniawski’s Fantaisie orientale, a posthumous work, which didn’t even appear in Accord’s collection of the composer’sRead more music for violin and piano (ACD 106-2, 26:5), features a flurry of double stopping embellishing a meager but quasi-exotic melodic motive. Ovid Musin summarized the Franco-Belgian School of violin-playing for a generation of students, and his Mazurka bristles with grateful passagework that sets it apart from similar confections by other composers, supposedly his betters. Those who dozed through volumes of Hans Sitt’s studies for violin may be surprised that his Bolero makes as compelling a musical point as it does.
David Frühwirth, a student of Ruggiero Ricci, Zakhar Bron, and Pinchas Zukerman, among others, plays the unfamiliar pieces with a panache that makes a listener wonder why they’ve remained unknown and the familiar ones with a freshness that might make the same listener wonder whether they’re really all that well known after all. This must have been the effect that the violinists who composed these pieces had on their audiences, many of whom were probably hearing much of the music on recital programs for the first time. There’s a trick—or, rather, a bag of tricks—to playing this literature. Heifetz may have been its most illustrious exponent, but others have put their signature on it as well; and Frühwirth seems to be one of them. He may not be the most individual of violinists, but he comes through in adrenaline-laced climaxes in such a thrilling way as to render personality almost irrelevant. In the more familiar literature, such as Ravel’s Pièce or Kreisler’s Albéniz arrangement, he offers tantalizing vistas from off the beaten path. The whole collection should appeal, therefore, to first-time listeners to any of these works as well as to collectors of the literature—a mix reflecting the very mix of interpretive talents Frühwirth and Sigfridsson bring to the program. Frühwirth draws a strong and vibrant tone from the 1707 Brüstlein Stradivari on which he plays; and Avie’s engineers have balanced the two performers fairly well, with the violin slightly in the foreground. But it’s the program and the performances that stand out. And stand out they do. Highly recommended.