A lesser-known fantasy by twentieth-century violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler has captured the imagination of Benjamin Beilman, a 21st-century soloist on the rise. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.
Susan Lewis: Born in 1875 in Austria, Fritz Kreisler became a star violinist. He also composed for violin, and admitted in 1935 that he had attributed some of his early works to other composers. In 1948, towards the end of his solo career, he published his Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta.
Benjamin Beilman: It’s essentially a nine-and-a-half minute piece that is pure gold.
SL: Violinist Benjamin Beilman says while it’s not well known, the work is ‘traditional Kreisler.’
BB: Wonderful melodies, luscious warm texture he creates...
SL: A Curtis Institute of Music grad, Beilman learned of the work from his teacher Ida Kavafian.
BB: She studied with Oscar Shumsky, who recorded all the Fritz Kreisler works known to man essentially. When I heard it, I thought, I have to do this. I love this writing. This is exactly what I want to close recital programs with.
SL: Why is it such a good closer?
BB: Everybody at the end of the day wants comfort. I think Kreisler, almost above all other composers, can provide that. He has a sense of soul and compassion that drips off of every piece he writes. The Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta is no exception.
SL: Beilman plays Kreisler’s Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta as the last piece on his CD, Spectrum, which also includes music by Schubert, Janacek, and Stravinsky.