Paganini, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Ponce

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Castelnuovo-Tedesco,Paganini,Ponce
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Romantic Works for Guitar
WORKS: Grand Sonata in A
PERFORMER: Norbert Kraft (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9033 DDD
Canadian Norbert Kraft cleverly contrasts works Romantic in period and character: the first represented by the Paganini (originally for guitar and violin), and the second by Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Ponce, whose pre-Second World War, Segovia-inspired pieces pay homage to Paganini, Boccherini and Schubert.

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Winner of the 1985 Segovia International Competition, Kraft is a strong player with plenty of glossy technical facility and a big, richly-modulated sound. But his fondness for effect and mannerism can be distracting. What he lacks too often is structural cohesion and simplicity of expression; a clearer understanding of large-scale content, rather than individual incident. He also needs tighter rhythmic feeling: the classically-underwritten first movement of the Paganini, for example, marked risoluto, demands keener temporal stability and tension if it isn’t to fall apart.

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The lyrical intensity of his slow playing, the turning of his cadences, is impressive. His earnestness, his disinclination to charm, to smile, isn’t. Ates Orga