Review By Robert Maxham ,Fanfare,January 2011
Fritz Kreisler made a rather large number of arrangements of Paganini’s music, and a great deal of them appear in Philippe Quint’s collection. In addition to these, Kreisler arranged the First Concerto’s first movement in a version that he himself recorded (though not until 1936, when he had entered his 60s—it’s the only Paganini he recorded), as, later, would Alfredo Campoli and Guila Bustabo. August Wilhelmj also arranged the first movement of that concerto, snipping here and there, reorchestrating, and adding romantic transitions—but Kreisler’s version bears the imprint of both Vienna and his own personality. While Heifetz, early on, reportedly played Wilhelmj’s arrangement with piano (Váša Příhoda
Quint begins with the finale of the Second Concerto, often played as an encore. He possesses not only the agility to make the harmonics tinkle (the movement’s subtitle, “La campanella,” suggests the ringing of bells) but the stylistic sensitivity and adaptability to play the occasional passage as though it had been written by Kreisler rather than Paganini (and the accompaniments—Kreisler, like Heifetz, played the piano almost as well as he did the violin—indulge Kreisler’s tendency to gemütlich chromaticism). Occasionally here, as in other pieces, Kreisler simplifies or omits, but the excisions and emendations hardly ever disfigure the torso he’s left. And Quint plays with such authority that it’s hard to hear these arrangements as anything but definitive, though inspection reveals otherwise.
Paganini’s variations showcase many of his most difficult technical innovations (there’s nothing in the caprices, for example, to equal the accompanied pizzicatos or double harmonics of the variations on God Save the King). They’re difficult enough to make a dazzling impression even when some of the terrors have been shorn, as in Kreisler’s arrangements. He certainly didn’t blanch at the double harmonics that figure so prominently in the Variations on Non più mesta, and neither does Quint, though they’re not 99 and 99/100 percent pure in his reading.
The young Jascha Heifetz and the young Michael Rabin made electrifying impressions, each, in the Moto perpetuo. If Quint doesn’t bite as deeply into the string as they did even at their lickety-split tempos, he still manages to make a lively impression; his reading takes 4:11, with Heifetz’s (1918) and Rabin’s (1960) and Ricci’s, 3:59, 3: 13, and 4:00, respectively, but Rabin didn’t repeat the first section. It’s impossible to distinguish the difficult passages from the easy ones. Next in Quint’s program come the three caprices Kreisler arranged for violin and piano (Heifetz used to play the 13t