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Paganini: Sonatas for Violin and Guitar

Fabio Biondi & Giangiacomo Pinardi (Glossa)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Sonatas for Violin and Guitar
Fabio Biondi (violin), Giangiacomo Pinardi (guitar)
Glossa GCD923410 66:30 mins


The Paganini who emerges on this disc is not the tortured, Mephistophelian figure painted by Delacroix and luridly described by his contemporaries as ‘the devil’s spawn’, but rather a graceful, Classically-trained chamber musician of sparkling wit and brio. The seven Sonatas for violin and guitar recorded here span the first three decades of the 19th century: charming, felicitous, sometimes teasing works, variously inspired by bel canto opera, Boccherini and Locatelli, Italian and Hispanic dance rhythms, and by the caprice and acrobatics of the Commedia dell’arte.

Playing a refined 1767 Neapolitan violin by Ferdinando Gagliano, Fabio Biondi brings his long experience in Baroque violin technique to these readings, radically different from the usual Romantically-inspired renditions of these sonatas, such as Luigi Alberto Bianchi’s recording characterised by a rich, vibrato-laden violin sound and exaggerated gestures. Biondi’s touch is lighter (his ornaments are balletic); hissounda clean bel canto. Expressive devices are subtler, too, while responsive to Paganini’s quixotic moods. He’s stylishly partnered by Giangiacomo Pinardi, whose delicate, early 19th-century Romantic guitar is just the sort of instrument the composer himself played. The two converse and dialogue in perfect equilibrium in the Sonata Concertata; they capture the mocking playfulness of the A minor duo’s Allegro mottegiando and the ingenuous charm of the D major Sonata No. 12, with its ‘childlike’ Rondò alla bambina. Their approach is that of equal partners enjoying intimate chamber music (even if, occasionally, the guitar sounds a little shy in the balance).


Kate Bolton-Porciatti