Paganini is never played in its authentic manner?

December 25, 2015 at 08:39 AM · Greetings all!

After reading numerous times that Paganini would play so beautifully that people would cry, and then also play so ferociously and quickly hat people would be worried about their souls (heh:), I have yet to see any players incorporate this into any of the caprices I have seen.

EX:

Caprice 13 (Devil's Laughter) sounds somewhat like laughter, but is never played with the slight rubato and sudden dynamic swells that would make it sound like a realistic laugh.

Also, Paganini's style meant that his pieces should use as many contrasting tone colours as possible and also change the speed of the piece (virtuoso parts at speed, melodic parts achingly beautiful), but I have yet to see a convincing example of this as well, except for one obscure recording by violinist Laszlo Szentgyorg:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTqnAzDSiBM

Its like everybody who plays the stuff is afraid to actually do what the man himself did while playing these pieces (ex: playing multiple consecutive notes using one finger on one string).

I'm not trying to rile anyone, I'm just REALLY curios as to why we don't honour his music by playing how he would. Though Laszlo seems to have the right idea... :D

Replies (31)

December 25, 2015 at 01:46 PM · For even more authenticity, one must also play Paganini without shoulder rest and chinrest. :)

December 25, 2015 at 02:55 PM · And he used gut strings, as everyone did.

There is a lot more to Paganini than his well-known Caprices, and the showman par excellence of half a dozen concertos and a handful or so of spectacular concert pieces. I think you'll find a lot more of the real Paganini in his many other works, particularly those for violin and guitar which cover the whole gamut of ability from relatively easy pieces he wrote for his pupils - mostly ladies of the Court of Lucca it seems - to truly virtuoso sonatas and sets of variations.

Luigi Bianchi (violin) and Maurizio Preda (guitar) have made a 9-CD collection of Paganini's violin-guitar works, available on Amazon. It has playing that may possibly be as close as we'll ever get to Paganini's thinking, including his love of opera and popular music. Well worth listening to. Those CDs rank very high on the list of music I regularly listen to.

December 25, 2015 at 03:19 PM · I understand what you are both saying, but the points I mentioned are not even difficult to incorporate.

They just require playing with more freedom, by using the written score as a guide and modifying it to suit the style, but everybody just sticks to the music!

Is it any wonder that lots of people say that Paganini isn't musical? :)

PS: All of the Luigi Blanchi CD's are on youtube from 1-9. :)

December 25, 2015 at 03:46 PM · Yes. Many players play Paganini in a rigid way both physically and musically. The challenge is of course in overcoming the technical challenges and focusing just on making music. Very few can reach that level of artistry. I know I can't and I probably never will be able to.

December 25, 2015 at 04:05 PM · A.O. Good to know that Bianchi-Preda is now on YouTube. Of course, I bought the set before it appeared on YouTube - story of my life ;)

A.O. Good to know that Bianchi-Preda is now on YouTube. Of course, I bought the set before it appeared on YouTube - story of my life ;)

Bianchi does play around with the timing occasionally, and in one piece gives a very good impression of the violin crying. The recordings were obviously made over a fairly long period because there are evident studio changes, little changes in technique and approach, and possibly he sometimes may be using a different violin.

December 25, 2015 at 05:05 PM · @Kevin: Actually, would flexibility in timing and colours not make the pieces easier to play by lifting a strict sense of rhythm and bow use?

It would basically be improvisation with most of the notes written , and it sounds MUCH more musical too. :)

December 25, 2015 at 07:56 PM · 2 possibilities:

1. Modern audiences are exposed so much to so many kinds of stimuli that a modern musician could never hope to illicit the emotional response to a performance like those of the past. Nothing shocks us anymore--can anyone imagine an audience rioting to music as Parisians did in 1914 when they first saw the Rite of Spring?

2. Classical music has become so thoroughly institutionalized, homogenized, sanitized, and pasteurized the world over that performers are expected to stay within a narrow realm of interpretation. Look at Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg: much criticized for being "over the top" and for her musical exaggeration. But is her playing that exaggerated, or just not as regimented as we've come to expect?

So maybe people could try to play like Paganini, but either people won't appreciate it, or they'll just criticize it as being other than what they've been conditioned for by the recording industry, conservatory teachers, and competition juries.

December 25, 2015 at 08:28 PM · Then I guess I'm good then if I play authentically...

The joys of not needing to sell tickets, and thus play as you should...

:D

December 25, 2015 at 10:02 PM · How can one tell if they are playing authentically? He did not leave behind any written method, and I believe there was only one student who reached similar acclaim before dying at a young age. And sadly, a lot of his more traditional material never made it into print.

Now-a-days, there are adolescents who can play his caprices with technical mastery and expression. So what is missing that Paganini provided?

I've read biographies and written accounts of his performances. Besides the undeniable technique, attested to by famous composers and artists of the say, it seemed he was the 19th Century version of a pop-star. Wild hair, dramatic playing flair, sometimes appealing to the cruder tastes of the masses, and even outrageous ticket prices.

Good heavens, look at how we treat modern players with classical chops who dare to venture into cross-over territory, like David Garrett.

If Paganini were alive today, I think he would still become famous and rich, but you would find people mockingly posting youtube videos of his latest performance on the "classical" music forums.

December 26, 2015 at 01:40 AM · Trevor - thanks for pointing people to the his violin-guitar works. They are wonderful pieces and from the violinist's point of view more accessible to those of us who are not virtuousi. I love the Centone di Sonate and highly recommend them to those violinists who know a good guitar player.

December 26, 2015 at 01:43 AM · @Carmen:

No you wouldn't, because he would take away your technical skills... :D

You do not need a written method, as Guhr reported several things about Paganini's playing that do not correspond to the limited expression and timbral range used by any players (not even the 20th cen greats), with the exception of the obscure Laszlo recording that I gave the link to in the original post. :)

PS: If you ask me, Garrett is just a bad violinist whose "cross-overs" are distasteful and do not do justice to the pieces that he uses for them (because he does not stay within the reals of the pieces). Not as bad as Giles Apap, but still...

December 26, 2015 at 05:09 AM · David Garrett is perfectly capable of playing straight-up classical well. But in his crossover performances he is an entertainer first and foremost. I find his arrangements to be enjoyable, at least in live performance, but of course it's necessary to see them as riffs on classical works and not the works themselves. I don't think it's disrespectful to arrange those pieces, though of course the more you worship the classical canon as sacred and unchangeable, the more you are likely to dislike anything that departs from the way we've kind of frozen those works in time.

December 26, 2015 at 05:49 AM · I know he can play straight up, but he just isn't a very good player IMO. He plays too straight, without feeling, or he just tries to get all flashy instead.

That seems to be common among today's players, where they are either completely boring or completely extreme/going crazy with dynamic swells and speed.

That is why I do not usually listen to any modern players except for Perlman.

December 26, 2015 at 06:54 AM · I use David Garrett for butchering/reducing classical music down to a whole bunch of notes. I REALLY REALLY despise his style of playing. He's very accurate, fast, but it's just notes. His playing sounds like I'm sitting in front of a computer rather than listening to a violinist.

I enjoy Perlman's performance too, I find Chloe Hanslip's style quite similar to Perlman's. Also, I like James Ehnes, Julia Fischer and Roman Kim's playing.

December 26, 2015 at 01:01 PM · Getting back to modern players being incapable of playing Paganini in an authentic manner, maybe I am missing your point because you are not being very specific.

Take a look at this video of a modern player performing La Campanella. How would you play it differently to make it more authentic?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6bfl7hJbMI

December 26, 2015 at 04:57 PM ·

December 26, 2015 at 06:45 PM · @Carmen: How about some crazier dynamics and some improvisation.

Mostly, though, WAY more tone colours!

Each note should have a particular quality to it, and not just be played "as is"- that is the essence of opera and the like, which Paganini's music is based on.

I hope that is clear as can be. :)

PS: Casey's recording has the right idea about tone colours and such, and though I would not say the Paganini posture is itself a requirement to play the piece appropriately, it does help with Paganini quite a bit. Try it out! :D

December 27, 2015 at 01:08 AM · I like David Garret!

Hair and all...

December 27, 2015 at 01:24 AM · I wonder if those of you who are saying you don't like David Garrett have ever heard him live. (I never heard his recordings until after I heard him live, and I thought he was a more compelling live performer.)

Anyway, A.O.: Can you give an example of a Paganini recording that has more tone colors?

December 27, 2015 at 02:51 AM · Lydia: The Laszlo that I mentioned, and my benchmark for an "authentically followed" style of how Paganini the rockstar would have probably played:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTqnAzDSiBM :D

I have heard David Garrett in videos where he was recorded live, and he still sounded boring/flashy...

December 27, 2015 at 06:17 AM · It is nice to see somebody mention Paganini's works for guitar and violin. They are some of my all time favourite musical pieces. They do not get performed as often as they should.

December 27, 2015 at 01:09 PM ·

December 27, 2015 at 01:13 PM · Some good replies already, especially by Scott and Carmen. (Although Scott, I think you mean Elicit?)

You might try listening to and watching Alex Markov https://youtu.be/CPVUfcQe9og

One can be hyper-critical and say that maybe this or that one plays more perfectly here and there. But Markov for me really does capture that swahbuckling style and excitement that that does Pag and his caprices proud.

December 27, 2015 at 01:33 PM · Salvatore Accardo gives a lovely interpretation of the Moses Fantasie by Paganini and a modern recording of it is available on youtube. Certainly reminiscent of interpretive styles found on recordings by Kreisler, Joachim and Auer.

Of these, only Joachim was alive at the time of Paganini and was but a young boy when Paganini died. I think what we are hearing from these old artists is more the playing fashion and pedagogy of that era. They did not seem to be afraid to add some "rough" sounds to the music.

But one has to be careful about making inferences about playing style from old recordings, like the Laszlo link. The technology of both recording and playback introduced a variety of distortions that could easily be mistaken as deliberate dynamics.

For example, I have a library of records from the age of the Victrola. A recording of John Philip Sousa's band playing the Stars and Stripes Forever has an overall variation in "color" that is reminiscent of the Laszlo Moses recording.

Maybe even old marching bands used to play in the "style" of Paganini. >grin<

December 27, 2015 at 07:13 PM · @Carmen: It may be that the style used to be more colourful, but I still stand by what I said: Paganini is not played with enough imagination and freedom by 90+ % of players, who simply follow the instructions on the page halfheartedly.

Markov is an exception, but even he seems to lack some tonal contrast much of the time (though, that could be the matter of synthetic vs gut), but I think that is not completely the case. :)

December 29, 2015 at 09:08 AM · Greetings,

in my somewhat warped opinion this argument doesn`t really have much substance. In the first place, as Scott said, we no longer react to music on such a level. He cited Rite of Spring. Beethoven`s music repeatedly shocked people while altering the musical. landscape. In general people don`t worry about their souls too much either. Science and the comforts of everyday living has more or less killed this as an issue in the average persons mind. Religion is just not popular like it used to be in Western countries. One of the last players to effect people in this way was the young Menuhin who was believed at the time to be a god in some of the places he played.

I also think there is a point where violinist composers simply don`t own their music anymore. I think if Paginini heard todays violinsts playing his music he would be blown away by how brilliantly and expressively it is played. I seriously doubt he had a superior tone color range and expressiveness than the great players of the 20c.

It then becomes pretty much a question of personal preference IE whose version moves you the most. For me , the stone cold perfection of the 19 year old Heifetz Moto Perpetuo is eerily moving. I worry about my soul. Accardo sometimes, but not always, forgets about technique and plays something so beautiful it melts my hearts. The recording Venegerov made at 21 of the first concerto attained a level that I doubt if Paginini could actually aspire to. The awesome brilliance of Kogan or whatever. The wild craziness of Gitlis gets right to the heart of the music.

Personally I am really grateful for the new interpretations by Ilya Gringolts. They are not sentimental, schamltzy or bound by any kind of mainstream convention. Even at my age hearing these was hearing a new kind of Paginini that made my heart stop and my jaw drop that such things were possible.

Hold on...wasn`t that the point in the first place?

Cheers,

Buri

December 29, 2015 at 05:56 PM · There has been mention here of Luigi Bianchi and Maurizio Preda's 9-CD set of Paganini's compositions for violin and guitar. For reference, here is a list of the contents of the set:

** Disc 1 **

01 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 1_I in A min

02 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 1_II in A min

03 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 2_I in D

04 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 2_II in D

05 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 3 in C

06 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 4_I in A

07 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 4_II in A

08 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 5_I in E

09 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 5_II in E

10 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 6_I in A

11 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 6_II in A

12 - Cantabile in D major, Op. 17, MS 109

** Disc 2 **

01 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 7_I in F

02 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 7_II in F

03 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 8_I in G

04 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 8_II in G

05 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 9_I in A

06 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 9_II in A

07 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 9_III in A

08 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 9_IV in A

09 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 9_V in A

10 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 10_I in C

10 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 10_II in C

12 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 11_I in Amin

13 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 11_II in Amin

14 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 11_III in Amin

15 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 11_IV in A min

16 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 11_V in Amin

17 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 12_I in D

18 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 12_II in D

** Disc 3 **

01 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 13 in E

02 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 13 in E

03 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 13 in E

04 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 14 in G

05 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 14 in G

06 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 15 in A

07 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 15 in A

08 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 15 in A

09 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 15 in A

10 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 15 in A

11 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 15 in A

12 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 16 in E

13 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 16 in E

14 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 17 in A

15 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 17 in A

16 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 17 in A

17 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 18 in C

18 - Centone di sonate, Op. 64, MS 112_ Sonata No. 18 in C

** Disc 4 **

01 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 9, Set 1 No 1 in C

02 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 9, Set 1 No 2 in G

03 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 9, Set 1 No 3 in D

04 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 9, Set 1 No 4 in C

05 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 9, Set 1 No 5 in A

06 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 9, Set 1 No 6 in E

07 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 10, Set 2 No 1 in A ("Perigoldino")

08 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 10, Set 2 No 2 in C

09 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 10, Set 2 No 3 in F

10 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 10, Set 2 No 4 in Amin

11 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 10, Set 2 No 5 in Emin

12 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 10, Set 2 No 6 in Emin

13 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 11, Set 4 No 1 in G

14 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 11, Set 4 No 2 in C

15 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 11, Set 4 No 3 in Amin

(Note: There is no Set 3 on the CDs or in lists of Paganini's compositions)

** Disc 5 **

01 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 11, Set 4 No 4 in C

02 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 11, Set 4 No 5 in D

03 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, MS 11, Set 4 No 6 in Amin

04 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 5, MS 12, Set 5 No 1 in Emin

05 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 5, MS 12, Set 5 No 2 in C

06 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 5, MS 12, Set 5 No 3 in Amin

07 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 5, MS 12, Set 5 No 4 in Dmin

08 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 5, MS 12, Set 5 No 5 in A

09 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 5, MS 12, Set 5 No 6 in G

10 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 6, MS 13, Set 6 No 1 in G

11 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 6, MS 13, Set 6 No 2 in C

12 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 6, MS 13, Set 6 No 3 in Amin

13 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 6, MS 13, Set 6 No 4 in F

14 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 6, MS 13, Set 6 No 5 in D

15 - 30 Lucca Sonatas, Op. 6, MS 13, Set 6 No 6 in E

** Disc 6 **

01 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 1_ I Amoroso

02 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 1_ II Andantino

03 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 2_ I Larghetto

04 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 2_ II Allegretto

05 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 3_ I Lento

06 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 3_ II Andantino

07 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 4_ I Quasi Andante

08 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 4_ II Allegro

09 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 5_ I Con Anima

10 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 5_ II Andantino

11 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 6_ I Quasi Larghetto

12 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 3, MS 133_ Sonata No. 6_ II Andantino

13 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 1_ I Allegro

14 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 1_ II Adagio

15 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 1_ III Allegro con brio

16 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 2_ I Largo

17 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 2_ II Andante

18 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 3_ I Larghetto

19 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 3_ II Polonese

20 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 4_ I Adagio

21 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 4_ II Grazioso

22 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 5_ I Adagio

23 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 5_ II Andantino

24 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 6_ I Adagio

25 - Sonate di Lucca, Op. 8, MS 134_ Sonata No. 6_ II Polonese

26 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ I. Principio - Allegretto

27 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ II. Preghiera - Andante

28 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ III. Acconsent - Allegretto

29 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ IV. Timidezza - Allegro

30 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ V. Contentezza - Andantino

31 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ VI. Lite - Allegro

32 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ VII. Pace - Comodo

33 - Duetto Amoroso, Op. 63, Ms 111_ VIII. Segnale - Allegretto

34 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ IX. Notizia della partenza - Allegretto

35 - Duetto amoroso, Op. 63, MS 111_ X. Distacco - Allegro

** Disc 7 **

01 - Entrata d'Adone nella Reggia di Venere, MS 8

02 - Sonata in A major, Op. 2, No. 1, MS 26_ I

03 - Sonata in A major, Op. 2, No. 1, MS 26_ II

04 - Sonata in C major, Op. 2, No. 2, MS 26_ I

05 - Sonata in C major, Op. 2, No. 2, MS 26_ II

06 - Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 3, MS 26_ I

07 - Sonata in D minor, Op. 2, No. 3, MS 26_ II

08 - Sonata in A major, Op. 2, No. 4, MS 26_ I

09 - Sonata in A major, Op. 2, No. 4, MS 26_ II

10 - Sonata in D major, Op. 2, No. 5, MS 26_ I

11 - Sonata in D major, Op. 2, No. 5, MS 26_ II

12 - Sonata in A minor, Op. 2, No. 6, MS 26_ I

13 - Sonata in A minor, Op. 2, No. 6, MS 26_ II

14 - Sonata in A major, Op. 3, No. 1, MS 27_ I

15 - Sonata in A major, Op. 3, No. 1, MS 27_ II

16 - Sonata in G major, Op. 3, No. 2, MS 27_ I

17 - Sonata in G major, Op. 3, No. 2, MS 27_ II

18 - Sonata in D major, Op. 3, No. 3, MS 27_ I

19 - Sonata in D major, Op. 3, No. 3, MS 27_ II

20 - Sonata in A minor, Op. 3, No. 4, MS 27_ I

21 - Sonata in A minor, Op. 3, No. 4, MS 27_ II

22 - Sonata in A major, Op. 3, No. 5, MS 27_ I

23 - Sonata in A major, Op. 3, No. 5, MS 27_ II

24 - Sonata in E minor, Op. 3, No. 6, MS 27_ I

25 - Sonata in E minor, Op. 3, No. 6, MS 27_ II

26 - Moto perpetuo, Op. 11, MS 72

** Disc 8 **

01 - Sonata concertata in A major, Op. 61, MS 2_ I

02 - Sonata concertata in A major, Op. 61, MS 2_ II

03 - Sonata concertata in A major, Op. 61, MS 2_ II

04 - Cantabile e Valtz in E major, Op. 19, MS 45

05-13 Barucabà Variations, Op. 14, MS 71

** Disc 9 **

01 - Duetto No. 1, MS 110_ I

02 - Duetto No. 1, MS 110_ II

03 - Duetto No. 2, MS 110_ I

04 - Duetto No. 2, MS 110_ II

05 - Duetto No. 3, MS 110_ I

06 - Duetto No. 3, MS 110_ II

07 - Duetto No. 4, MS 110_ I

08 - Duetto No. 4, MS 110_ II

09 - Duetto No. 5, MS 110_ I

10 - Duetto No. 5, MS 110_ II

11 - Duetto No. 6, MS 110_ I

12 - Duetto No. 6, MS 110_ II

13 - Carmagnola, MS 1_ Largo - Allegro

14 - Carmagnola, MS 1_ Variation 1 - Variation 14

15 - Grand Sonata in A major, Op. 39, MS 3_ I

16 - Grand Sonata in A major, Op. 39, MS 3_ II

17 - Grand Sonata in A major, Op. 39, MS 3_ III

Total playing time ~ 7hrs 45min

"MS" refers to Moretti and Sorrento's catalog of Paganini's works

"Perigoldino" (Disc 4, track 7, mvt 2) is an 18th century Ligurian folk tune

"Barucabà" was a Genoese folksong

"Carmagnola" was a French hymn

Many of the listed compositions are not all that easy to find in print, or even on IMSLP. My suggestion is to search the catalogs of the big national libraries - the British Library, the Library of Congress, La Bibliotheque Nationale of France, the Vatican Library, for instance. In most cases it is possible to borrow what you find via an interlibrary link so that you can see it locally. I have done so on occasion with the British Library (not necessarily for music), and it doesn't take long. There is a small handling fee. Occasionally there may be a delay if a book is in the process of being digitized - currently an enormous "work in progress" at the British Library and others.

December 29, 2015 at 07:59 PM · @Buri: I did not mean that modern layers literally have to scare people and move them to tears, but I highly doubt that Paganini had less contrast in his music than modern players.

I point you to Peter Skaerverd's work on the Cannone, where he points out that the gut strings and different register of a Del Gesu produce vast variety of colours and effects compared to a Strad etc.:

http://www.peter-sheppard-skaerved.com/2009/12/work-on-il-cannone/

I still think that the Laszlo recording is closest to how Paganini would have played, as his pieces call for sharp contrasts and very detailed use of tonal difference, as he could reportedly get his violin to sound just like an actual donkey, or get the audience to greet him by getting getting his violin to say hello first. :D

Say what you will, but almost all players play without a spirit of improvisation, and lack the spontaneity that brings the music to life (not much wow factor), which was the ehole point of the pieces in the first place. :)

December 29, 2015 at 09:33 PM · Say what you will, but almost all players play without a spirit of improvisation, and lack the spontaneity that brings the music to life (not much wow factor),

Is the spirit of improvisation the same as improvisation?

Its a shame that you dont seem to get much pleasure from listening to music. Igo is an amusing alternative at times.

cheers,

buri

December 29, 2015 at 10:00 PM · I get pleasure from LISTENING to it, extremely so if I may say! How dare you question my taste, my good sir! :D

I just have a thing for Paganini, and I wish it would be played more in the style of how its composer wanted it to be played, that's all. :)

December 30, 2015 at 12:18 AM · Paganini did not only compose slow movements that are positively operatic, but also quick movements that sound for all the world like folk dance music. And that is what, in many cases, they actually are. Paganini evidently went to folk and popular music of the day for much of his source material. Take, for example, the 30 Lucca Sonatas (discs 4 and 5 of the CD set) for violin and guitar, composed in the main for ladies of the Court of Lucca, some of whom were his pupils.

Each Lucca sonata is in two movements, the first being slow and operatic in character, and the second being a short, quick and jolly dance tune, usually, but not always, in 6/8. At least two of these second movements, both in Lucca Sonatas MS10, have independent lives and names elsewhere. The first, "Perigoldino" (Disc 4, track 7, mvt 2) is a dance from 18th century Liguria. The second Lucca tune (Disc 4 track 9, mvt 2) is apparently found in "La Fille Mal Gardée" by Hérold, and is also associated with a Scottish dance called "Mrs Hill's Delight". It appears in William Winter's early 19th century manuscript collection of dance music in the West of England, slightly mysteriously named as the "Bristol Polka", and a version can be found on the web site of Newfoundland and Labrador University, so I've been told. Like many British and European folk tunes, "Mrs Hill’s Delight" crossed the Atlantic. Paganini, in his version of "Mrs Hill's Delight", provides more elaboration than would be found in a dance tune as such.

Paganini was clearly into folk music (as with many composers before, during and since his time) and he would have known that there is a fundamental element of spontaneity always present in its playing - and would surely have used it in performance to the delight of his audience.

The British folk musician Robert Harbron, whose band has made a CD of some of the music in the William Winter manuscript, makes the following useful observation in his CD notes about ornaments and performance of the music:

"… the tunes recorded are only outlines: skeleton forms of what Mr Winter and his contemporaries might have played. In the process of aural transmission, a tune has its corners rounded off and its edges blurred … stripped down to its bare essentials the whole tune is subject to variation and decoration.

"As often as not, the tune will be subtly different each time it is played. To notate a tune thus played is to write down just the barest skeleton of the tune, in the understanding that the player will fill in the gaps.

"For a traditional musician, the [written] dots of a tune represent perhaps ten percent of each final performance."

One or two thoughts about Paganini's compositions for violin and guitar. They cover a wide range of ability. The 30 Lucca Sonatas, composed for aristocratic pupils, are well within the reach of today's student progressing up through the grades with an understanding teacher. The 18 Centone sonatas apparently start more or less where the Lucca Sonatas leave off, there is much more drama in them, and they get progressively more difficult as you go through the sets. Some other works in the violin/guitar corpus can definitely be slotted into the virtuoso category.

The ideal instrument for accompanying the violin in these works has to be the guitar, Paganini's second and almost equal instrument, because the tonal and dynamic qualities of the instruments complement each other so well. Paganini invariably gives the guitarist an interesting part to play, and sometimes solos with the violin as accompaniment. The piano is a poor substitute in comparison, but most will have to make do.

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