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Nicolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
24 Caprices, Op 1 (1801-07) [79:42]
Tanja Becker-Bender (violin)
rec. January 2007, Chapel of Castle Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany
HYPERION CDA67763 [79:42]
Experience Classicsonline

Tanja Becker-Bender has all the artistry and technical chops necessary for this monument of the virtuoso repertoire. Her performance is here caught in a red meat recording of towering power.

Paganini's 24 Caprices for solo violin have provided the linguistic glossary for the violin repertoire. Tchaikovsky and Sibelius are predicted through No. 5. Glazunov must have known the Ninth before writing his Violin Concerto. Vivaldi might well have been an influence on the young Paganini.

Some of the Caprices are concerned with velocity and some with scudding effects. In others such as No. 18 it is the imitative fanfaring qualities that matter. Becker-Bender certainly has the wow factor. But by no means all of these pieces are wrapped up in awe-inspiring virtuosity. Their staying power would have been non-existent if they did not also have some melodic pabulum. Listen for example to the lyrical address of No. 4 and the hurdy-gurdy scrunch of No. 20. The balalaika effect of No. 6 contrasts with the liturgical contours of No. 7. The louche and slippery-casual No. 13 is superbly slid and nudged. The piercing birdsong of No. 24 is given a burly power that is always ripe and never skeletal or malnourished.

Becker-Bender can be heard breathing at times but somehow this simply adds to the humanity and musicality of these performances. Speaking of which hats off to Hyperion and the musicality of their decisions for the good long pauses between tracks.

There are truly excellent notes from Calum Macdonald.

I hope that we will hear more from Becker-Bender. She is here heard playing a violin by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù (Cremona, 1728), owned by ‘Blue de Brasil’ of the Fazenda Ipiranga, on loan through the Instrument Fund of the German Music Foundation.

This is a very musical set of Caprices. For this violinist the technical accomplishment required is a given and is recognised only as the first plateau. The further ascent into musical communication is what matters.
Rob Barnett


1  No 01 in E major: Andante 'L'arpeggio'  [2'03] 
2  No 02 in B minor: Moderato  [3'08] 
3  No 03 in E minor: Sostenuto – Presto  [3'31] 
4  No 04 in C minor: Maestoso  [7'10] 
5  No 05 in A minor: Agitato  [3'02] 
6  No 06 in G minor: [Adagio]  [4'41] 
7  No 07 in A minor: Posato  [3'54] 
8  No 08 in E flat major: Maestoso  [3'28] 
9  No 09 in E major: Allegretto 'La chasse'  [3'03] 
10  No 10 in G minor: Vivace  [2'15] 
11  No 11 in C major: Andante – Presto  [3'44] 
12  No 12 in A flat major: Allegro  [2'26] 
13  No 13 in B flat major: Allegro 'The Devil's Laughter'  [2'37] 
14  No 14 in E flat major: Moderato  [1'58] 
15  No 15 in E minor: Posato  [3'07] 
16  No 16 in G minor: Presto  [1'30] 
17  No 17 in E flat major: Sostenuto – Andante  [3'46] 
18  No 18 in C major: Corrente. Allegro  [2'31] 
19  No 19 in E flat major: Lento – Allegro assai  [3'01] 
20  No 20 in D major: Allegretto  [2'53] 
21  No 21 in A major: Amoroso  [3'09] 
22  No 22 in F major: Marcato  [3'01] 
23  No 23 in E flat major: Posato  [5'11] 
24  No 24 in A minor: Tema con variazioni. Quasi presto  [4'33]


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