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Paganini and Paganinissimo

Niccolò Paganini:
Perpetual Motion (Moto perpetuo), I palpiti, The Witches' Dance (Le streghe), Sonata in E minor, Cantabile, Capriccios Nos. 1, 2, 5, 9, 13, 14, 16 from op. 1 (arranged by R. Schumann) David Nathaniel Baker (b. 1931): Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini
Pavel Šporcl – violin; Petr Jiříkovský – piano

Supraphon SU 3772-2
+ special CD-rom video track [RSK Entertainment Ltd UK]

Paganinissimo (Jewgeni Schuk, Violine, Andrej Lebedev, Gitarre)

Niccolò Paganini
Sonate IV & VI
Centone di Sonate; Cantabile; Rondeau
Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908)
Playera; Zapateado
Peter Iljitsch Tschaikowsky
Melodie op. 42, Nr.3
Sergei Rachmaninoff

Vocalise op. 34, Nr. 14
Astor Piazzolla Café; Night-club
Jules Massenet
Méditation (Thaïs)

HERA 02116
[TT 60 mins]

Heaven & Hell Iveta Apkalna (organ)
Aivars Kalejs (geb. 1951)
Toccata über den Choral von J. S. Bach
"Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr"
Franz Liszt
Legende Nr. 1: Die Vogelpredigt des Hl.Franziskus
von Assisi, Transkr. G. Berger
Legende Nr. 2: Der Hl. Franziskus von Paula auf den
Wogen schreitend, Transkr. von M. Reger
Petr Eben (geb. 1929)
Walpurgisnacht, VIII aus dem Faust - Zyklus
Maurice Duruflé
Toccata aus der Suite op.5
Naji Hakim (geb. 1955)
Quatre Études-Caprices (für Pedal Solo)
George Thomas Thalben-Ball (1896-1987)
Var. über ein Thema von Paganini (für Pedal Solo)
Sergej Prokofjew
Toccata, op. 11; Marsch aus "Die Liebe zu den drei Orangen" Transkr. Jean Guillou

HERA 02117 [72 Min]

Paganini for Christmas was Supraphon's sales pitch at the UK launch of the new CD from Pavel Šporcl, who 'will amaze you with his inhuman technique'.

Well, yes, he is a very good fiddler and plays wearing a fetching head band, but for me a little Paganini goes a long way, and he soon outstayed his welcome in the Czech Embassy's loud acoustic; Šporcl playing imperiously as if he was in a large concert hall. Paradoxically, the music sounded fine during refreshments afterwards, the new CD played at a reasonable volume on excellent equipment; and Pavel Sporcl's new music video on the CD-rom track is entertaining - more so for me than most of the recital.

The Schumann piano accompaniments for the Caprices are sparse and add no interest to these display pieces, which in their unaccompanied original form remain a staple compulsory test at violin competitions. The Sonata is a little different, but of most interest on the CD is Baker's naughty Ethnic Variations on the ubiquitous Caprice No 24 (Google even finds a version of it for electirc guitar!).

Jewgeni Schuk plays with guitarist Andrej Lebedev (Nicolo Paganini's other instrument) but he is not a violinist in the same class as Sporcl and I did not find the mixed programme interesting enough to play right through.

Iveta Apkalna is an up-coming young organist whose new CD is titled Heaven & Hell. The Paganini connection is the Variations for pedals solo on the usual Caprice No 24, by the British organist George Thalben-Ball, who was at Temple Church in London for 62 years. This is a tour de force which she executes securely. Iveta's programme is fairly far ranging, without venturing into the interesting avant-garde (q.v. e.g. Gudmunsen-Holmgreen).

Two substantial Legends of Liszt are convincingly transcribed by Reger and Berger, and show off the subtle registrations of the Wangen organ in Allgäu. Most interesting to me were the Hakim studies, and Prokofiev transcriptions by Jean Guillou, one of my favourite organist-composers - do follow that link!

The presentation of Iveta Apkalna's disc is deplorable with a naive and verbose text (appallingly translated into English) and a thoroughly unsuitable, supposedly sexy cover photo to boost sales! For a change, I've not given the cover images, which can be seen on the companies' websites.

Expect some Paganini for Christmas on Classic FM!

© Peter Grahame Woolf