Paganini isn’t all about finger-breaking caprices and concertos. Anyone hearing the easy-going opening to the Sonata Concertata for violin and guitar would be forgiven for thinking they were listening to another composer entirely. But then he was so much more than the devilish virtuoso of impressive if one-dimensional posthumous reputation: not least, an avid guitarist, in which capacity he would often delight in playing among friends (one’s sympathies go to whichever poor musician was tasked with playing the violin on such occasions).
All the works on this album of chamber music show the composer’s lighter side, except perhaps the fiendish complexity of the variations on a theme from Rossini’s Mosè in Egitto. There are three ritornelli for two violins and bass (here played on a cello) which take a Baroque form and rework it with Classical harmony into a trio of four- minute, upbeat miniatures. Six brief Preludes are like preliminary studies for the Caprices, less rhythmically and technically convoluted. The flying spiccato of the Moto perpetuo Op.11 opens a window onto Paganini the recitalist with a piece designed to leave an audience breathless with its string of semiquavers. The long-breathed melody of the Cantabile Op.17 Rossini and Schumann for Paganini is touched with the kind of grace that drew admiration and esteem from Rossini and Schumann for Paganini’s compositions as much as his playing.
These artists are all familiar musicians on Brilliant Classics: the Noferini family have recorded chamber music by Martucci (BC94968) and Sgambati (BC94813; ‘nothing short of an unexpected revelation… razor sharp, focused, and exciting interpretations’, according to a reviewer for Arkiv Music), and Giulio Tampalini can be heard in the music of Tarrega (BC94336), Respighi (BC95230) and Llobet (BC94335), among others.
This new recording features some rarely recorded chamber music by Niccolo Paganini, the violinist “possessed by the devil”, great innovator of his instrument and composer of delightful, brilliantly written music of great melodic invention.
Included are the 3 Ritornelli for 2 violins and bass, the substantial Sonata Concertata for violin and guitar, the famous and notorious (because of its inhuman difficulties) Mosè variations, 6 Preludes for violin solo and the well known Cantabile ad Moto Perpetuo.
Played with total dedication and “spielfreude” by three members of the Noferini family: Roberto, Andrea and Anna, together with the excellent Italian guitarist Giulio Tampalini.