In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are five classic recordings of Liebesfreud (“Love’s Joy”) by the Austrian-born violinist Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962). This short piece comes from a world long past. It evokes the waltzing elegance and frothy charm of pre-war Vienna. Kreisler wrote it sometime before 1905 and deliberately mis-attributed it to Joseph Lanner (1801-1843), the composer of popular Austrian dance music. In a previous post, we listened to Liebesfreud re-imagined, spectacularly, by Sergei Rachmaninov, who accompanied Kreisler frequently.
Each of these violinists have a distinctly personal sound and style of playing which makes side-by-side comparisons interesting:
We’ll start with Kreisler’s own 1938 recording with accompanist Franz Rupp. Notice the sparkling spiccatos and the vocal quality of the tone and phrasing:
Russian violinist Mischa Elman (1891-1967) delivers an intense, schmaltzy performance in this 1962 clip:
A straightforward elegance characterizes this performance by Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986). I featured more of Grumiaux’s recordings in this previous post.
Leonid Kogan (1924-1982) was one of the greatest twentieth century Soviet violinists:
One of the most soulful renditions of this piece is by Josef Gingold. Hear more of Gingold’s recordings in this previous post.