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Antonio BAZZINI (1818-1897)
Virtuoso works for Violin and Piano
Calabrese Op.34 No.6 (1859) [4:42]
Trois morceaux lyriques Op.41 (1863) [15:51]
Le Carillon díArras Op.36 (1861) [8:27]
Deux morceaux de salon Op.12 (1845) [8:27]
Deux grandes etudes Op.49 [10:54]
Trois morceaux en forme de sonate Op.44 (1864) [19:25]
La Ronde des lutins Op.25 (1847) [4:55]
ChloŽ Hanslip (violin)
Caspar Frantz (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, September 2007†
NAXOS 8.570800 [70:47]


Experience Classicsonline

Not only is this a disc of delightful fireworks, but itís been cannily selected as well. So letís address the discography before we move on to Hanslip and Frantzís splendid playing. Up to now if you wanted an all-Bazzini disc your choice was pretty much restricted to the recording made by Luigi Alberto Bianchi with pianist Aldo Orvieto on Dynamic CDS258. In that case you got the Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 55, the two Novelettes, Op. 54, the three Morceaux, Op. 53 and the three Morceaux, Op. 46. So we now have complementary selections of Bazziniís virtuosic flights of fancy. 

And so to the playing, which is terrifically engaging. Calabrese is an elegant and suave piece, nicely coloured by Hanslip. The Trois morceaux lyriques followed a few years later. The first is a lyrical effusion and played with requisite feeling. The second is a Scherzo and has some Schumannesque and proto-Elgarian moments reminiscent from his later violin morceaux; I wouldnít be surprised if the young Elgar hadnít absorbed some of the virtuoso violin repertoire from Bazzini along the way. The last of the three is a restful lullaby. 

Le Carillon díArras is, strictly speaking, a piece of virtuoso fluff but when itís played with such zesty commitment as here one can shelve haughty disdain. The left hand pizzicati ring out and the harmonics are played with precision Ė and even in the testing double stops intonation remains pure. The two Op.12 Morceaux make a good contrasting pair Ė the first melancholy and the second light hearted. Most impressive is the evenness of Hanslipís semiquavers in the moto perpetuo-type study that is the first of Deux grandes etudes Op.49. Rather more substantial is Trois morceaux en forme de sonate Op.44 composed in 1864. The long first movement is written in sonata form but itís the second in which we can better gauge both Bazziniís ear for lyricism and Hanslipís highly imaginative response to the music. She varies her tone, plays with real poetry and applies the most subtle of portamenti Ė not to mention varying her vibrato usage to shade and colour the line. To end we have the only well known item in the programme, and inevitably itís La Ronde des lutins Ė which is nearly as fast in this performance as Perlmanís youthful recording exhumed fairly recently Ė albeit with slightly less fizz but a bit more grazioso (Itzhak Perlman rediscovered - BMG-RCA 82876625172).

Iíve skimmed over Caspar Frantzís contribution which is unfair; heís a first class partner and adds significantly to the pleasure and real success of this well recorded recital.

Jonathan Woolf




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