Mister Paganini

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Albeniz,Kreisler,Paganini,Ysaye
LABELS: NAIVE
ALBUM TITLE: Mister Paganini
WORKS: Kreisler: Concerto in One Movement; La Gitana; Petite valse; Albeniz: Malagueña; Paganini: I Palpiti; Violin Concerto No. 2: Rondo (arr. Kreisler); Ysaÿe: Paganini Variations
PERFORMER: Laurent Korcia (violin); Haruko Ueda (piano); Paris Chamber Orchestra/Jean-Jacques Kantorow
CATALOGUE NO: V 5344

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Take three of the all-time great violinist-composers, bring to the boil, stir and leave to simmer and the result is pure musical dynamite. Kreisler’s rethink of the opening movement of Paganini’s First Concerto, complete with harp and gloriously camp hoochie-coochie accompaniment to the subsidiary theme in thirds, is a riot of virtuoso indulgence that Laurent Korcia performs with dazzling aplomb. Every note sparkles with an ear-tweaking clarity and larger-than-life tonal lustre reminiscent of Pinchas Zukerman at his early-1970s prime. More familiar is Kreisler’s less interventionist take on Paganini’s La campanella, and here too Korcia affectionately shapes the music in even the blackest of pages.

Paganini unadorned is represented by his infamous I Palpiti, a series of variations on a Rossini aria (from Tancredi) that Korcia negotiates with thrilling virtuoso élan. Korcia’s seductive tonal sheen also pays dividends in two Hispanic, piano-accompanied miniatures – Kreisler’s La gitana and his gentle rewrite of Albéniz’s Malagueña – which emerge as though experienced through a shimmering heat-haze. Finest of all is a gripping performance of Ysaÿe’s 15 wrist-crippling variations on Paganini’s famous Caprice No. 24, a cornucopia of fiendish technical ingenuity that Korcia throws off with scintillating flair and passion.

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Julian Haylock