One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS Bargain price

Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
24 Caprices Op. 1
Sonig Tchakerian (violin)
Recorded Oratorio San Bovo, Padova, December 2002
ARTS 47693-2 [79.38]


Recordings of the 24 Caprices aren’t commonplace, even in these days of digitally advanced virtuosi. Renardy and Ricci were the pioneers of this repertoire on disc and Rabin, Erlih, Accardo and Perlman have assumed the mantle since. Sonig Tchakerian is an Armenian-born Italian citizen who pursued advanced studies with Accardo and Gulli, two masters of the modern Italian School, and with Nathan Milstein in Zurich. She has performed the Caprices in concert on a number of occasions and has recorded a substantial amount of the trio repertoire with the Trio Italiano of which she was a member.

The challenges of course are wincingly hard. Moreover this is an Audiophile recording, using the much-touted 24-bit/96 kHz range and which, while promising clarity and "unrivalled ambience" can sound very forward, unrelieved and not especially sympathetic to Tchakerian’s tone (and do we really need to know the name of the manufacturers of the microphone cables?) All this means that her tone sounds rather scrappy and rough in No. 1 and gives one the distinct impression of compromised intonation. In No. 3 she is slower than, say, Ricci in his 1950s recording (she is almost invariably slower) but shows better tonal judgement than he did. Fine though she often plays there are places where she doesn’t cultivate enough colour (No. 4) and lacks the necessary theatrical panache (No. 5) in some of the maestoso sections. In the Allegretto of No. 9 she doesn’t really characterise the passages tightly enough and there’s perhaps a lack of incision in No. 10, where Ricci’s devilry wins out. But she is elegant – if a trifle over emphatic – in No. 13 and despatches the trumpet effects of No. 18 with understanding, and takes a nice, flowing tempo in No. 20, though in so doing she does downplay the drone effect. Debits are the effortful registral leaps in the wicked E minor (No. 15) and the spartan "dialogue" in No. 23 – where things should be a lot more active.

The notes are rather florid. Tchakerian’s is a thoughtful and musical account of the Caprices. Allegiances though will not shift; Perlman is a superb contemporary account, with Ricci for explosive backup.

Jonathan Woolf


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

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.