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|Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, MS 48, La Campanella (1826)
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D minor, MS 60 (1829-30) [30:42]
Vogtland-Philharmonie, Greiz-Reichenbach/Stefan Fraas
rec. Neuberinhaus Reichenbach/Vogtland, January 2004
EDITION HERA HERA02115 [60:02]
novelty here - the gimmick, if you prefer - is a different Adagio in
the B minor concerto. According to soloist Michael Jelden's
program note, Paganini's manuscript of the solo part includes
both the standard Adagio and a two-line, solo-and-bass
version of this one - in other words, it's not orchestrated,
or even filled out texturally. Jelden has done so, "strictly
following Paganini's annotations in the solo part, in Paganini's
style." He correctly notes that "[t]he character
of the piece is very different from the rest of the concerto," but
it's certainly pleasant enough. Once past a brief introduction
incorporating surprise-symphony effects, the five-and-a-half
minute movement consists mostly of a long, broad cantilena
for the soloist over a pizzicato-based accompaniment, with
brief turbulent outbursts offering contrasts.
gimmick, however, wasn't necessary. Jelden, who apparently
divides his concertizing between virtuoso concerti and modern
works, does a fine job with the solo parts here. His principal
asset is a full, firm-bowed sounding of every note,
no matter how brief in duration -- it struck me as a sort of
violinistic counterpart to Bernard Haitink's conducting --
which ensures that the melodies really sing expressively.
This particularly tells in the central Adagios: that
of the B minor is, for all its simplicity, almost operatically
expansive, while the second theme of the D minor's Adagio
flebile e con sentimento has a lovely searching quality.
Jelden also infuses the 6/8 rhythms in each concerto's final Rondo with
a nice swing and lilt -- these movements aren't just about
the technical fireworks.
the down side, within Jelden's generally accomplished technique,
rapid passages in sixths -- whether arpeggiated or double-stopped
-- prove to be stumbling blocks, in terms of both tone and
intonation. The sequential phrase at 5:43 in the B minor's
first movement, for example, never quite makes it up to pitch;
nor does some of the following cadence. But the similar, lower-lying
passagework at 10:47 is spot-on. And in vaulting upward leaps
and other such bits of target practice, his aim is precise.
have to admit that the provincial-sounding compound name of
the orchestra didn't inspire my confidence - indeed, the 65-member "Vogtland-Philharmonie" turns
out to be an amalgamation of two previously separate, presumably
smaller, orchestras in Greiz and Reichenbach. But I needn't
have worried: the playing is adept and polished. I particularly
enjoyed the full-throated ritornellos, with big, round
brass interjections interrupting that of the D minor. The violins
might be relatively understaffed -- here and there in tutti,
they can't always hold their own against the brasses' harmonies
-- but they're unfailingly well-blended, clear and in tune.
The exposed, unaccompanied phrases that open the D minor are
true, with only the highest notes turning a touch glassy.
engineering is excellent, but the proofreading department fell
down on the job: Paganini's first name is misspelled throughout
-- one "c" for two, and an acute accent for a grave
-- and the English grammar and syntax in Jelden's translation
of his own note could have used editorial intervention.
Stephen Francis Vasta
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