Paganini, Tchaikovsky, Bazzini, Wieniawski, Sarasate, Ponce & Ernst

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bazzini,Paganini,Ponce & Ernst,Sarasate,Tchaikovsky,Wieniawski
LABELS: Erato
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Tutta Bravura
WORKS: Works by Paganini, Tchaikovsky, Bazzini, Wieniawski, Sarasate, Ponce & Ernst
PERFORMER: Vadim Repin (violin)Alexander Markovich (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-25487-2
Such a disc of showpieces is always in danger of inducing pyrotechnic fatigue on the part of the listener, but violinist Vadim Repin does attempt to address the problem in Tutta bravura. The lyrical sweep of Tchaikovsky’s Melody from Souvenir d’un lieu cher and Wieniawski’s infectiously carefree Polonaise brillante give Repin’s lustrous, velvety tone the chance to shine, and adds a measure of poignancy and depth to the proceedings. Wieniawski’s Variations on an Original Theme are particularly fine, Repin’s consummate virtuosity gripping the attention from the cadenza-like, declamatory opening to the rich, soulful lament of the minor variation and the joie de vivre of the bubbling arpeggio passages.

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Elsewhere, the performances are undoubtedly impressive, but less compelling. Paganini’s famous Caprice No. 24 is technically dazzling: Repin’s reading of the theme played entirely on harmonics is bell-like and atmospheric, and pianist Alexander Markovich gives delicate and sensitive support. However, the racing spiccato which appears here and in the same composer’s Variations on ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ is unnecessarily clipped and harsh, and, very occasionally, tuning is wayward. These works are all undoubtedly spectacular on the concert platform, but become rather an effort to listen to, Repin’s usually full-bodied tone wearing inevitably thin as he scales the music’s virtuosic heights. Catherine Nelson