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Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Complete Ghiribizzi for solo guitar

43 Ghiribizzi for solo guitar, MS 43 (c.1820)
Adriano Sebastiani (guitar)
rec. 5-7 January 2007, Pian del Voglio, Bologna, Italy. DDD 
Experience Classicsonline

Paganini is revered as probably the world’s finest ever virtuoso violinist but his chamber music compositions are almost totally ignored. In addition to his fame for composing for the violin it is often forgotten that he also played and composed a substantial number of works for the guitar. In fact, of the five opus numbers published during his lifetime only the op. 1 set of 24 Caprices for solo violin did not include the guitar.

Swiss composer Franz von Wartensee, an associate of Paganini, wrote in his memoirs, “Not everyone knows that Paganini was a first-rate guitarist, since he did not consider it worth the effort to present himself publicly as such.” Paganini’s large output for solo guitar includes the set of 37 Sonatas, MS84 and the five Sonatine, MS85 together with a number of other individual scores. Today Paganini’s best known guitar works, with violin accompaniment, are probably the Sonata concertata, MS2 and the Grande sonata, MS3. 

On this Dynamic disc the 43 Ghiribizzi for solo guitar were composed in Naples around 1820, writing in 1824 that, “The guitar Ghiribizzi were to be for a little girl in Naples.” The affable and happy-go-lucky character of these occasional, miniature pieces titled Ghiribizzi can be translated as meaning ‘whimsical trifles’. The Ghiribizzi are short works designed to be within the technical compass of the modest guitar player yet they maintain a consistent and abundant flow of stylish and attractive melody. 

All but two of the 43 scores are composed in the major key; primarily in either A, C or D major. These undemanding, delightful and richly sumptuous morsels are predominantly brisk and lively, evocative of the joy and merriment of the carnival or the country dance. Ideally I would have preferred a more contrasting mood from the generally buoyantly and sparkling character. Only a small number of the Ghiribizzi, such as the Andantes No. 8 and No. 12, are of a more reflective and soothing nature. I admired the shifting moods of the Ghiribizzo No.10 Allegretto in C major and the confident posturing of No. 16 Larghetto in G major, In Cor più non mi sento’. Especially memorable are the Ghiribizzi No. 17 D major Andantino, Le Streghe’; No.20 Andante in C major, ‘Là ci darem la mano’ and No. 39 Allegretto in D major

In some of them Paganini uses themes from his own works and those of others. For example the theme in the carnival-like Ghiribizzo No. 4 is taken from his Sonata for violin and guitar, Op. 4/6 and the affable No. 5 has the melody Non più mesta accanto al fuoco from Rossini’s opera La Cenerentola. In the brisk and optimistic Ghiribizzo No. 11 Paganini uses a theme from his popular Sonata a Preghiera (Moses Fantasy) for violin and orchestra, MS 23 that comes from Rossini’s opera Mosè in Egitto. The genial Ghiribizzo No.37 Adagietto con espressione in A major might indicate a possible connection to the Naples meeting that Paganini had with Rossini in 1820. 

The 47 Ghiribizzi were recorded in 2007 at Bologna by the Italian-born and Florence-based guitarist Adriano Sebastiani who has developed a specialisation for the music of Paganini. The soloist is in supreme command of this delightful set. His way with articulation is outstanding imparting a vibrant colour to Paganini’s ‘whimsical trifles’. The sound quality is vividly clear with a fine sense of presence. At less than sixty minutes the playing time might be ungenerous but not so the amount of pleasure I took from listening to these performances.

Michael Cookson

A selection of recommended Paganini chamber releases:
Paganini: Complete works for violin and guitar
Centone di Sonate, MS112; Cantabile in re maggiore, MS109; Sonate di Lucca, MS9, 10, 11, 12, 13; 6 Sonate di Lucca, MS133; 6 Sonate di Lucca, MS134; Duetto Amoroso, MS111; Entrata d’Adone nella reggia di Venere, MS8; Sei Sonate, MS26; Sei Sonate, MS27; Moto Perpetuo, MS72; Sonata concertata, MS2; Cantabile e Waltz, MS45; Variazioni sul Barucabà, MS71; Sei Duetti, MS110; Carmagnola con variazioni, MS1; Grande sonata concertata, MS3. Luigi Alberto Bianchi (violin) and Maurizio Preda (guitar). 9 disc box set on Dynamic CDS 466/1-9. 
Paganini: Works for violin and guitar
Sonata concertata, MS2; Grande sonata, MS3; Sei Sonate, MS27; Centone di Sonate, MS112; Cantabile in re maggiore, MS109; Moses Variations, MS23; Moto Perpetuo, MS72 played by Gil Shaham (violin) and Goran Sollscher (guitar). Deutsche Grammophon, ‘Paganini for Two’ 437 837-2.
Paganini: Guitar works
Frédéric Zigante has recorded four volumes of Paganini’s solo guitar music on the Arts Music label’s Red Line series: Cat No. 47192-2 (Vol. 1); Vol. 247193-2 (Vol 2); 47194-2 (Vol. 3) and 47195-2 (Vol. 4). 
Paganini: Sacred choral score and concertante scores
Le couvent du mont St. Bernard for violin, chorus and orchestra; Piece for horn, bassoon and orchestra; Tarantella for violin and orchestra. Various performers on Dynamic CDS027. 
Paganini: Complete chamber music
Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op.4/1, MS28; Quartet No. 9 in D major, MS36; Quartet No. 10 in A major, MS37; Quartet No. 11 in B major, MS38; Quartet No. 12 in A minor, MS39; Quartet No. 13 in F major, MS40; Quartet No. 3 in A major, Op. 4/3, MS30; Quartet No. 7 in E major, MS34; Quartet No. 14 in A major, MS41; Quartet No. 2 in C major, Op. 4/2, MS29; Quartet No. 8 in A major, MS35; Quartet No. 15 in A minor, MS42; Quartet No. 4 in D major, Op.5/1, MS31; Quartet No. 5 in D major, Op. 5/2, MS32; Quartet No. 6 in D minor, Op. 5/3, MS33; Serenata in C major for viola, cello and guitar, MS17; Terzetto Concertante in D major for viola, cello and guitar, MS114; Terzetto in D major for viola, cello and guitar, MS69; Terzetto in A minor for 2 violins and guitar, MS116; Serenata in F major for 2 violins and guitar, MS115; String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3; In cor più non mi sento, theme and variations for two violins and cello; Three Duets for violin and cello; 21 Divertimenti carnevaleschi for 2 violins and cello, MS4; Three Duets for violin and bassoon, MS130; Quattro Notturni a quartetto for two violins, viola and cello, MS15; Quartet No. 7 in E major for two violins, viola and cello, MS34 (transcription from quartet for strings and guitar); Sonata per Rovene per mandolino e chitarra, MS14; Serenata per mandolino e chitarra, MS16; Minuetto per l’amandorlino per mandolino solo, MS106. Various performers on a ten disc box. Dynamic CDS 553/1-10. 
Paganini: Chamber Works With Guitar Vol. 1
Trio Concertante in D major for viola, guitar and cello; Cantabile for violin and guitar and Quartet No. 7 in E major for violin, viola, cello and guitar. Siegbert Remberger (guitar); Offenburger String Trio (Frank Schilli, violin; Rolf Schilli, viola; Martin Merker, cello). Ambitus AMB 97 977. 
Paganini: Chamber Works With Guitar Vol. 2
Quartet No. 1 in A minor for violin, viola, cello and guitar, Op. 4, No. 1; Trio in D major for guitar, violin and cello and Quartet No. 15 in A minor for viola, violin, cello and guitar. Siegbert Remberger (guitar); Offenburger String Trio (Frank Schilli, violin; Rolf Schilli, viola; Martin Merker, cello). Ambitus AMB 96 899. 
Paganini: 24 Caprices for solo violin, Op. 1
24 Caprices for solo violin, Op. 1 performed by Salvatore Accardo. Deutsche Grammophon, Galleria 429 714-2.

Note: There is a wealth of information on Paganini on this splendid website.

Full Track-Listing:
43 Ghiribizzi for solo guitar, MS 43
No.1 Allegretto in A major
No.2 Andantino in C major
No.3 Valtz in C major
No.4 Allegretto in A major
No.5 Moderato in D major
No.6 Andantino in G major
No.7 Valtz in E major
No.8 Andante in C major
No.9 Andantino in C major
No.10 Allegretto in C major
No.11 Allegretto in A major
No.12 Andante in C major
No.13 Allegro in C major
No.14 Allegro assai in C major
No.15 Allegro in G major
No.16 In Cor più non mi sento, Larghetto in G major
No.17 Le Streghe, Andantino in D major
No.18 Andantino in D minor
No.19 Corrente in G major
No.20 Là ci darem la mano, Andante in C major
No.21 Allegretto in A major
No.22 Larghetto in A major
No.23 Allegro in A major
No.24 Andante in A major
No.25 Andante in C major
No.26 Arietta in D major
No.27 Andantino in D major
No.28 Valtz in D major
No.29 Marcia in D major
No.30 Allegretto in D major
No.31 Minuetto, Andante in A major
No.32 Allegretto in A major 
No.33 Allegretto in A major
No.34 Valtz in A major
No.35 Valtz in D major
No.36 Allegretto in C major
No.37 Adagietto con espressione in A major
No.38 Vivace in A major
No.39 Allegretto in D major
No.40 Andante in A major
No.41 Allegro in C major
No.42 Valtz in A major
No.43 Andantino in A minor



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