PAGANINI: Music for Violin and Guitar, Vol. 1

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Nicolo Paganini (1782 - 1840)

Music tor Violin and Guitar Vol. 1

Sonata Concertata in A Major

6 Sonatas Op. 3

Variations on Barucaba, Op. 14

Cantabile in D Major

Paganini's popular reputation rested always on his phenomenaltechnique as a violinist, coupled with a showman's ability to dominate an audience and tostupefy those who heard him by astonishing feats of virtuosity. His playing served as aninspiration to other performers in the nineteenth century, suggesting to Chopin, inWarsaw, the piano Etudes, and to Liszt the material of the Paganini studies that he w rotein 1838. The very appearance of Paganini impressed people. His gaunt aquiline features,his suggestion of hunched shoulders, his sombre clothing, gave rise to legends ofassociation with the Devil, the alleged source of his power, an association supported bythe frequent appearance by his side on his travels of his secretary, one Harris, thoughtby some to be a familiar spirit or a Mephistopheles watching over his Faust. Stories of apact with the Devil were denied by Paganini himself, who, with characteristicunderstanding of the value of public relations in a more credulous age, told of an angelicvisitation to his mother, in a dream, foretelling his birth and his genius.

Paganini was born in Genoain 1782 and was taught the violinfirst by his father, an amateur, and then by a violinist in the theatre orchestra and bythe better known violinist Giacomo Costa, under whose tuition he gave a public performancein 1794. The following year he played to the violinist and teacher Alessandro Rolla inParma, and on the latter's suggestion studied composition there under Paer. After are turnto Genoa and removal during the Napoleonic invasion, he settled in 1801 in Lucca, where,after 1805, he became solo violinist to the new ruler, Princess Elisa Baciocchi, sister ofNapoleon. At the end of 1809 he left, to travel during the next eighteen years throughoutItaly, winning a very considerable popular reputation. It was not until1828 that he madehis first concert-tour abroad, visitingVienna, Prague and then the major cities of Germany, followed by Paris and London in 1831.

His international career as a virtuoso ended in 1834, when, after an unsatisfactory tourof England, he returned again to Italy, to Parma. A return to the concert-hall in Nice andthen, with considerable success, in Marseilles, was followed by an unsuccessful businessventure in Paris, the Casino Paganini, which was intended to provide facilities equallyfor gambling and for music. With increasing ill health, he retired to Nice, where he diedin 1840.

Although he is popularly knownprincipally for his violin music, Paganini wrote a large number of compositions for theguitar, an instrument of which he also demonstrated mastery. He left no less than 140shorter pieces for the instrument, with 28 duos for violin and guitar, and a number oftrios and quartets that make use of the instrument. He had had some familiarity with theinstrument as a child in Genoa. When in 1801 he finally gained freedom from his family andestablished himself in Lucca, according to later legend he fell in love with a woman knownto us only as Dida, whose identity is unknown but whose connection with Paganini isattested by dedications of some of his later compositions using guitar. These early yearsin Lucca were subsequently the subject of gossip, with speculation as to the nature of theaffair in which Paganini was involved, or even suggestions that he had spent time, someeighty ears, in prison for the murder either of his mistress or of his rival in love.

These rumours Paganini later took the trouble to deny. Whatever amorous intrigues hadoccupied him in Lucca, it seems that he devoted some attention to the guitar as well as tothe violin, his technique of left-hand pizzicato in the latter to some extent suggested bythe technique of the former.

The first of his sonatas for violinand guitar, the Sonata concertata in A major,was written in 1804 and dedicated to Signora Emilia di Negri, the wife of one ofPaganini's earliest patrons in Genoa, the Marchese Giancarlo di Negri. In this sonata thetwo instruments are evenly matched in the three movements, an opening Allegro, a movingAdagio and a lively final Rondo.

The two sets of sonatas for violin andguitar, Opus 2 and Opus 3, seem to have been composed during early years in Lucca. The sixsonatas of Opus 3 were dedicated Alla ragazza Eleonora, to the girl Eleonora, a relationof a priest and musician, Abbate Domenico Quilici, who may well have been of help toPaganini in the development of his more general musical ability. The first of the set ofsonatas has a charming if brief second movement. Double stopping by the violin marks thefirst movement of Opus 3, No.2. It is followed by a movement more scherzoso thanandantino. This leads to a sonata that opens with a violin melody of now familiar contour,capped in a second movement by a spritely Rondo, its principal theme answered by adramatic minor episode. The fourth sonata starts with a suggestion of recitative,contrasted with a more lyrical figure, the whole operatic in conception. The secondmovement, marked Allegretto, has a conventionally Turkish flavour in its principal theme,soon submerged in pyrotechnics. The amorous double stopping that marks the first movementof the fifth sonata suggests that of Caprice No.21,answered by an opera buffa last movement that finds a place for virtuoso violin displayand briefly lyrical moments for the guitar. The set ends with a melancholy A minorAndante, any such feeling quickly dispelled by the cheerful folk-song that dominates thesecond movement and the virtuoso display of left-hand pizzicato.

Paganini's variations on the Genoesemelody Barucaba were written in 1835 anddedicated to Luigi Germi, a friend and lawyer who was of great assistance to him infinancial matters. The sixty variations, three sets of twenty in the original version forunaccompanied violin, provide an opportunity for technical virtuosity from the violinist,while demonstrating the composer's ingenuity in his varied treatment of a very simpletune, repeated in conclusion. The present variations for violin and guitar are drawn fromthe third book, with an unchanged violin part, to which guitar accompaniment is added. Theflowing Cantabile is of uncertain date and it has been suggested that it was written forPaganini's protege Camillo Sivori, a native of Genoa and a violinist of very greatability.

Scott St. John

Born in London, Ontario, the Canadianviolinist and violist Scott St. John has impressed critics and audiences, with a number ofawards to his credit, including the 1988 Canada Council Competition, which brought theloan of the 1717 Stradivarius violin that he plays. A graduate of the Curtis Institute, hemade his New York debut, playing violin and viola, in 1988, as first-prize winner of theAlexander Schneider Violin and Viola Competition. Other awards have included first prizeat the 1992 Munich International Violin Competition. Scott St. John has appeared as asoloist with major orchestras in America, Europe and Japan, including the Cleveland andPhiladelphia Orchestras and the Royal Philharmonic in London.

The guitarist Simon Wynberg waseducated in South Africa, later taking a Master's degree at the University of London,spending the years from 1978 to 1991 in the English capital. He has recently settled inToronto. Simon Wynberg has won a very considerable reputation as a soloist and as achamber musician, as well as for his research into guitar repertoire and his resultingeditions and publications. He founded
Item number 8550690
Barcode 730099569026
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Classical
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists John, Scott St.
Wynberg, Simon
John, Scott St.
Wynberg, Simon
Composers Paganini, Nicolo
Paganini, Nicolo
Producers Wynberg, Simon
Wynberg, Simon
Disc: 1
Cantabile in D major
1 I. Allegro spiritoso
2 II. Adagio assai espressivo
3 III. Rondeu - Allegretto con brio scherzando
4 I. Larghetto
5 II. Presto variato
6 I. Adagio con dolcezza
7 II. Andantino scherzoso
8 I. Andante sostenuto
9 II. Rondo - Molto allegro
10 I. Andante largo
11 II. Allegretto mottegiando
12 I. Adagio amoroso
13 II. Allegretto energicamente
14 I. Andante innocentemente
15 II. Allegro vivo
16 Variations on Baracuba, Op. 14 (Book 3)
17 Cantabile in D major
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