Paganini, Baker

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Baker,Paganini
LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Capriccios, Op. 1/1, 2, 5, 9, 13, 14 & 16 (arr. Schumann); Moto perpetuo; Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini
PERFORMER: Pavel Sporcl (violin), Petr Jiríkovsky´ (piano)
If I were Pavel Sporcl, I would have thought twice about starting the CD with the Fifth Caprice. His playing of its hair-raising arpeggios is wayward in both pitch and tone, and he’s much more comfortable in the singing line of the Sonata which follows, with a nice line in subtle portamento and rubato. ‘Le streghe’ shows both these traits, with a charming theme but some sense of effort in the variations; and that carries over into the Moto perpetuo, dogged rather than fleet-footed. There’s more of a sense of enthusiasm and style in David Baker’s jazzy variations (on the usual 24th Caprice), though the faster passagework is again a little hit and miss – and when the notes aren’t always what you’d expect, intonation needs to be spot-on. It’s the only piece where Ji?íkovsky´ has a substantial piano part – for the rest he’s dealing efficiently with orchestral reductions, arrangements of guitar originals, or Schumann’s add-ons to the solo Caprices, which tend to tether the music to the ground, rather than let it fly. Not that it’s his fault that ?porcl makes such a meal of the Second Caprice in particular, or doesn’t quite find the range of colour and phrasing for ‘I palpiti’. A disappointment. Martin Cotton