52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Nicolò PAGANINI (1782-1840).
I palpiti - Introduction and Variations on " Di tanti Palpiti" MS 77 Op. 13 (1819) [11.42]
Le Streghe, MS 19 Op. 8 (1813) [10.21]
Cantabile, MS109 Op. 17 [4.09]
Six Sonatas, MS 27 Op. 3 - No. 6 in E minor [4.06]
The Caprices, MS 25 Op. 1 (1801-07): No. 1 in E [1.53]; No. 2 in B minor [4.17]; No. 5 in A minor [2.54]; No. 9 in E [2.43]; No. 13 in B flat [2.42]; No. 14 in E flat [2.01];
Moto perpetuo, MS 72 Op. 11 [4.21]
David N. BAKER (b.1931)

Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini (1982) [11.07]
Pavel Sporcl (violin)
Petr Jiríkovský (piano)
Recorded at the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum, Prague, June and July 2004

Includes a video for Windows PCs (Real Player), directed by Juraj Herz
SUPRAPHON SU 3772-2 [63.01]


Pavel Šporcl has developed something of a reputation as a Czech Nigel Kennedy. Partly this is sartorial – stubble, bandana, garish promotional material – and partly repertorial in that he has a wide-ranging interest in music, including jazz. There are other similarities; both trained at home, Šporcl with the distinguished Václav Snítil, and then in America with Dorothy DeLay. Šporcl has done some outstanding work in introducing music to children in an intelligible and exciting way. He has also honoured standard repertoire and many will know him from his performances of the Dvořák concerto. To that extent he is in the long line of Czech violinists, of whom his teacher is a notable example, but in his espousing of the finger-busting Paganinian repertoire he also recalls one of the elite of his kind, Vaša Příhoda, whose mastery of the national repertoire was exceeded in reputation only by his standing as a Paganini exponent.

Both players of course are very different. Šporcl rather lacks the older player’s outsize gestures and coruscating incision; he’s a softer-grained kind of violinist though his tone is penetratingly pure and focused and not at all fulsome. A rather unexpected element of the programme is that he plays a selection of the Caprices in the Schumann piano arrangements. These have long been ditched in the post-Ricci, post-Rabin days of Paganini playing on disc so it’s a jolt to encounter them again. The Second could perhaps do with a greater sense of projection and might have been thrown off with more panache, though maybe if he weren’t shackled to the accompaniment he would have done so. In the Fifth we can hear his concentrated tone, precise, well equalized. His lyric side comes out in the little E minor Sonata though I feel it’s just a touch brittle in places. Le Streghe is a famous test piece that he doesn’t quite meet head on; there are static moments that don’t convince but I warmed to his playing of the Cantabile in D where he shows some excellent work on the lower strings.

I Palpiti is again warmly phrased after a fine piano introduction from Petr Jiríkovský. Šporcl’s rhythm is fine, he employs plenty of tone colouration and there’s abundant virtuosity; a good performance all round. The only piece of non-Paganini is David N Baker’s Ethnic Variations on a Theme of Paganini. It was written in 1983 and here receives its premiere recording. Based on the famous 24th Caprice and lasting eleven minutes this is a jazz-based workout that offers a pleasing diversion from the serious business of keeping ones head above the virtuosic waters.

The recording quality is warm but not enveloping, whilst the notes are keenly up to date in the best Šporcl tradition. There’s some really committed playing here, along with some more fallible moments and the Schumann editions add another layer of unpredictability to the affair.

Jonathan Woolf


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
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.