Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Nicolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
24 Caprices, Opus 1
Ara Malikian (violin)
Rec August 2002, Tonstudio Vagnsson, Hannover
WARNER APEX 2564 60220-2 [46.31+53.58]

Paganini was a hugely significant and interesting musician, veritably a legend in his own lifetime. The legend was that his playing was so remarkable in its virtuosity that he was in league with the devil. And none of his music did more to foster this reputation than these extraordinary studies.

Captured in vivid sound amid a pleasing acoustic, Ara Malikiran presents the studies with the full observance of the repeats Paganini marked in the autograph score. This has obvious advantages, chief among them the simple fact that Paganini intended the music to be performed this way and his intentions ought to be honoured. On CD this means two discs rather than one, but at bargain price in a slimline box this is not a problem.

The studies vary in approach, of course, since the intention of covering every aspect of instrumental technique was of paramount importance to Paganini. Therefore creating the right sound takes on a special significance, and in this regard Ara Malikian triumphs. The recent and high quality recorded sound plays its part too. Perhaps some of the faster tempi could have been faster still – as in parts of the famous recording by Itzhak Perlman (EMI) – but allowing for a little more clarity of articulation affords its own compensations and rewards.

It is in the nature of a recording of a solo violin that the instrument can acquire a larger than life quality, and certainly some of the slower numbers – Caprice No. 6 at tempo Lento, for example – can have this effect. Since Malikian’s sound is so pleasing this is not the problem it might be, and in any case adjusting the amplifier’s volume control provides an easy solution.

As so often with budget releases, the accompanying documentation leaves much to be desired. There is a short and interesting essay, but inexplicably in the context of music such as this, no artist biography whatsoever. Since Ara Malikian is not an internationally celebrated artist, this omission seems all the more unfortunate.

All twenty-four Caprices in a single sequence is a daunting prospect for the listener as well as for the violinist. They are best heard, I think, either singly or in small groups. The final Caprice, based on that tune, remains the most satisfying of them all.

Terry Barfoot


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.