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24 Caprices for Solo Violin
Paganini: 24 Caprices
01 Jan 2005
Originally recorded in 2004
Studio A, Auditorium Parco della Musica, Roma
Total Time - 79:21
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24 Caprices for Solo Violin
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24 Caprices, Op. 1
for solo violin
(No. 1) Andante in E major
(No. 2) Moderato in B minor
(No. 3) Sostenuto in E minor
(No. 4) Maestoso in C minor
(No. 5) [ ] - Agitato - [ ] in A minor
(No. 6) Lento in G minor
(No. 7) Posato in A minor
(No. 8) Maestoso in E flat major
(No. 9) Allegretto in E major
(No. 10) Vivace in G minor
(No. 11) Andante - Presto - Tempo I in C major
(No. 12) Allegro in A flat major
(No. 13) Allegro in B flat major
(No. 14) Moderato in E flat major
(No. 15) Posato in E minor
(No. 16) Presto in G minor
(No. 17) Sostenuto - Andante in E flat major
(No. 18) Corrente - Allegro - Corrente in C major
(No. 19) Lento - Allegro assai in E flat major
(No. 20) Allegretto in D major
(No. 21) [ ] - Amoroso - Presto
(No. 22) Marcato in F major
(No. 23) Posato in E flat major
(No. 24) Theme: Quasi presto - 11 Variations - Finale in A minor
There are many recordings of Paganini’s violin works, but how many can boast of being played on Paganini’s own violin? These dazzling performances are on Paganini’s own 1742 Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ (the Canon). Add into the equation Quarta’s revolutionary approach to virtuosic Italian music – he studies the autograph manuscripts in enormous detail in order that he should perform the works as Paganini intended – and you surely have a recording of unrivalled authenticity.
As Paganini prize winner, the name Massimo Quarta is strongly connected with the composer. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant violinists of his generation and performs regularly throughout his native Italy.
By the middle of the eighteenth century, when Nicolò Paganini began his extraordinary career, the Capriccio, or Caprice, had lost the contrapuntal character of Renaissance studies. It was either associated with the solo cadenza in a concerto, or implied a study – a technical exercise of graduated difficulty. Paganini combined the concerto cadenza with a Violin study to invent a new dimension for the Caprice, creating a style which was limpid, logical and coherent in form and execution while retaining the bizarre and ‘capricious’ qualities characteristic of the Caprice even in the Baroque era. At the same time, Paganini endowed the set of student exercises with a creative quality new to the genre, a quality that would later inform Chopin’s Ètudes. The 24 Caprices also provide a compendium of superlative technical examples that was never to be surpassed: the ‘New Testament’ of solo violin music (the ‘Old Testament’ being Bach’s Six Solos) and a manual for the perfectly-equipped violinist with which the author clarified the new techniques for himself and codified them for others. At the same time the he was laying the foundations of the Study as a showpiece for the concert hall – an idea taken up by Liszt.
There is no known date of composition for the Capricci. An early date has been suggested but cannot be proved, and it is indeed possible that they were written in stages at different times. What we do know is that the whole set, divided into three parts, was completed by 1817, because the Milan publisher Giovanni Ricordi had the plates engraved on the 24th November that year. The Capricci were published two and a half years later, in June 1820, all twenty-four together as Opus 1, with a dedication ‘Alli Artisti’: for the private use of professional musicians.
…should pass directly into the Hall of Fame. Absolutely essential.
Massimo Quarta is a real virtuoso, tossing off the difficult passages boldly, nonchalantly and with an impressive degree of polish and accuracy…
All these virtues, as well as close but unobtrusive miking and appropriately reverberant recorded sound, should recommend the set to collectors, violinists, ad students in search of models.
This is Paganini Caprices the way they were meant to be heard. Massimo Quarta takes all of Paganin;s markings seriously and doesn’t try to make things easy for himself. It’s refreshing to hear such immaculate execution and rhythmic precision in performances of the Caprices.
American Record Guide
Full-bloodied, technically assured and forwardly recorded…
BBC Music Magazine
…Quarta phrases the lyrical melodies with disarming charm and ravishing timbre and displays all the requisite technical armoury, flamboyance and style.
Quarta’s octaves are miraculously true (listen to No. 7), his double-stops uniquely smooth (No. 8) and left-hand pizzicato is rounded and immaculately controlled. Indeed, only a certain lack of devil-may-care exuberance prevents this masterly account from going straight tot the top of the list.
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