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Paganini: Music for Violin & Strings

Paganini: Music for Violin & Strings

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Paganini was the first great ‘star’ of instrumental music, the precursor of the rock stars of today, able to induce collective hysteria as well as to dictate fashion and to influence the behaviour of entire generations. He did this by transforming the violin into an orchestra of multiple voices and timbral experimentation, in other words, stretching the very limits of what a single instrument could do. This programme is particularly interesting, both for the quality of the performances as well as the new chamber-string versions created by Francesco Fiore and Salvatore Lombardo. It also juxtaposes extremely popular Paganini works alongside compositions not very often heard in the concert hall but which help flesh out our understanding of the artistry of a composer too often misjudged as merely an acrobat of the violin. In four of Paganini’s best-known compositions – the ‘Campanella’ (Bell) movement from the Violin Concerto No.2, the Moses Fantasy, the Witches’ Dance and the Cantabile – the solo violin is here accompanied by a string quintet. In the first three, the string quintet stands in for the orchestra with a consequent lightening of accompaniment. In the Cantabile, the original of which was for violin and piano (Paganini’s only piece to be accompanied by keyboard rather than guitar), the ‘heavier’ quintet accompaniment still manages to retain a discreet sense of enjoyable sophistication. The next two works, Nos. 6 and 3 of the 6 Sonatas Op.3 for violin and guitar, are presented here in transcriptions for two or three violins. These two sonatas, written in the salon style typical of the age, delight the listener with the conversational nature of the violin writing. Finally come three compositions in their original versions, providing an excursion into a lesser-known, but still very interesting, area of Paganini’s chamber output. The three Duetti concertanti for violin and cello were written for the enjoyment of amateur players, each comprising two movements

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    • Number of Discs: 1
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    • Label: Brilliant Classics
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