Paganini, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Ponce

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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)
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.


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.


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