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Every Violinist’s Guide - Thirty Four Traditional Caprices, Etudes and Studies
Rudolf KREUTZER (1766-1831)

Etude No. 2 Op. 16 [0.46]
Etude No. 35 Op. 16 [2.49]
Etude No. 8 Op. 16 [1.16]
Pierre RODE (1774-1830)

Caprice No. 21 Op. 22 [2.58]
Caprice No. 17 Op. 22 [1.39]
Caprice No. 2 Op. 22 [1.30]
Caprice No. 8 Op. 22 [1.53]
Federigo FIORILLO (1755-1823)
Caprice No. 14 Op 3 [1.54]
Caprice No. 28 Op. 3 [1.58]
Caprice No. 3 Op. 3 [1.08]
Niccolo PAGANINI (1782-1840)

Caprice No. 19 Op. 1 [2.38]
Caprice No. 9 Op. 1 [2.36]
Caprice No. 14 Op. 1 [1.06]
Caprice No. 16 Op. 1 [1.25]
Caprice No. 21 Op. 1 [3.20]
Caprice No. 20 Op. 1 [3.05]
Caprice No. 5 Op. 1 [2.18]
Caprice No. 24 Op. 1 [4.38]
Henryk WIENIAWSKI (1835-1880)

Etude No. 7 Op. 10 [4.10]
Etude No. 1 Op. 10 [0.36]
Etude No. 5 Op. 10 [1.43]
Jakob DONT (1815-1888)

Caprice No. 2 Op. 35 [1.28]
E. POLO (1869-1953)

30 Double Stops Studies No. 4 [1.19]
Otakar SEVCIK (1852-1934)

Variation Nos 21-24 Op. 2 Part 2 [2.14]
Variation No. 34 Op. 3 [0.37]
Charles DANCLA (1817-1902)

Caprice Mo.9 Op. 52 [1.06]
Caprice No. 16 Op. 52 [1.35]
J.F. MAZAS (1782-1849)

Study No. 8 Op. 36 [2.30]
H.E. KAYSER (1815-1888)

Study No. 4 Op. 20 [1.09]
Franz SCHUBERT (1808-1878)

L’Abeille (The Bee) No. 9 Op. 13 [1.09]
Pietro LOCATELLI (1695-17640

Caprice No. 2 Op. 3 [3.29]
Caprice No. 20 Op. 3 [1.56]
Caprice No,23 Op. 3 [3.35]
H. SCHRADIECK (1846-1918)

Section 3 No. 12 [1.11]
Steven Staryk (violin)
Recorded in 1963, 1969 and 2003
CENTAUR CRC 2744 [69.54]

Admirers of this pioneering pedagogic recital can rest assured that it has been well treated by Centaur in their re-issue. This is the first CD incarnation of a set originally recorded in London in 1963 but augmented by other material recorded in 1969 (the Locatelli caprices) and 2003. The result is thirty-four caprices, etudes and studies recorded on eight different violins by one scintillating musician. Actually there is also one genre piece, L’Abeille (The Bee), once a ubiquitous feature of the encore genre. For initiates and collectors of such relative Arcana Centaur print the names of the particular violins on which Staryk recorded – they include the Hochstein and Muntz Strads – and that adds another pleasurably intimate sense to the proceedings.

All violinists have their "daily dozen" and Staryk’s exposition of some of the most technically demanding exercises will give an avenue for students – and others – to lend an ear in something of the same way that some filmed sessions alert one to posture, elbow and thumb position and the myriad of technical-physiological concerns that surround playing a string instrument.

As such it’s hardly appropriate to comment on these etudes and caprices purely as pieces of music – indeed Centaur makes no attempt to isolate what each caprice tests in terms of technique, left or right hand. Still a few comments might be in order. The different recording locations and times, whilst attesting to Staryk’s maintenance of superb technique over a thirty-year period, also reveal the inevitable changes in acoustic properties. The Nineteenth Caprice from Op.1 – he plays a third of the 24 and it would be good to have a single disc of the entire set – sounds very closely recorded and as a result somewhat greasy sounding but this is certainly not typical of the set as a whole, although you will notice the changes over the years.

Some final thoughts; note Staryk’s juicy vibrato in Fiorillo’s Caprice No.14 – playing these caprices certainly need not be a tonally arid exercise as he constantly demonstrates – and also the sustenance of the Wieniawski Etude No.7. Then there are the double stop demands, incessant ones, of the Polo but also the graceful reprieve Dancla allows the gymnastic fiddler in his Ninth Caprice. Or the faint pre-echoes of Salut d’amour in the Mazas (did Elgar know Mazas’s studies when he was a young violinist?).

Here then is a master class in "how it’s done" and a fine resource for the young player; let’s just hope it doesn’t put them off.

Jonathan Woolf




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