Julia Fischer Paganini 24 CapricesJulia Fischer
Paganini. 24 Caprices

Decca, 2010

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Violinist Julia Fischer performes in this recording Nicolò Paganini’s twenty-four Caprices, composed as studies and not intended to be performed in public (they were even considered unplayable when they appeared) and now considered the test bed of every violinist. The Genovese composer and virtuoso wrote the Caprices in an indeterminable period, since in his correspondence there are no references to them before 1836, and no other copy survives before that of 1817, which was delivered to Ricordi for the edition of 1820.

The Caprices were generally dedicated by Paganini “alli artisti” (“to the artists”) in the Ricordi edition, but later he attributed a dedicatee to each Caprice, including Franz Liszt (7), Sigismund Thalberg (11), Charles Philippe Lafont (13), Louis Spohr (15), Rodolphe Kreutzer (16) and… “Nicolò Paganini, sepolto pur troppo” (“Nicolo Paganini, buried alas”; 24).

Julia Fischer moves gracefully between the Caprices: each piece requires different skills and interpretation, but the violinist mantains unequivocally this feature. The inflamed beginning of the first Caprice worthily opens the collection and happily prepares the listener to the rest of the execution, which is varied and not devoid of expressive nuances (in spite of the definition of studies associated with the Caprices, which Fischer defines more appropriately “moods”): I remember for example the fine Capriccio n. 7 in A minor, the short and gorgeous Caprice No. 16 in G minor and also the lovely Caprice No. 18 in C major. Fischer deepens as much as possible the feelings that inspired the pieces and is fearless in the face of technical complexity. Her performance is thus hypnotic.

Overall, this is a great recording, a wonderful tribute to the great virtuoso «with his face that seemed the neck of the violin» (as Massimo d’Azeglio describes Paganini in his Memoirs, comparing him to his close friend and definitely less emaciated Rossini) and a great demonstration of Julia Fischer’s talent.

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