The Art of Luigi Alberto Bianchi — violin and viola  
CD 1 [65:56]
Antonio BAZZINI (1818-1897)
3 Morceaux en forme de Sonata op.44 [19:42]
3 Morceaux caracteristiques op.45 [16:16]
3 Morceaux lyriques op.41 [15:44]
Menus propos! Causieres musicales. Premiere suite op.47 [10:54]
Reverie op.posth [3:14]
CD 2 [51:38]
Nicolň PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Sonata for Violin and Guitar op.1 MS9 [17:03]
Sonata for Violin and Guitar op.2 MS10 [21:32]
Sonata for Violin and Guitar op.4 MS1 [13:03]
CD 3 [52:24]
Nicolň PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Sonata for Violin and Guitar op.4 MS11 [12:11]
Sonata for Violin and Guitar op.5 MS12 [19:26]
Sonata for Violin and Guitar op.6 MS13 [21;15]
CD 4 [58:26]
Nicolň PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Sonata per la Gran Viola MS70 [13:11]
La Campanella [5:27]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Liebeslied [3:27]
Liebesfreud [3:45]
Playera [4:50]
Malaguena [5:16]
Romanza Andalusa [5:09]
Zapateado [3:43]
Nigun [7:51]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
La fille a cheveux de lin [2:50]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Habanera [2:52]
CD 5 [56:02]
Max REGER (1873-1916)
Violin Sonata No.7 in A minor [22:57]
Viola Suite No.1 in G minor [12:.27]
Viola Suite No.2 in D major [10:31]
Viola Suite No.3 in E minor [10:01]
CD 6 [58:14]
Alesandro ROLLA (1757-1841)
Three Duets for Violin and Viola op.15
Duet No.1 in E flat major [21:30]
Duet No.2 in A flat major [18:26]
Duet No.3 in C major [18:07]
CD 7 [78:16]
Zoltán KODÁLY (1882-1967)
Sonata for Cello solo op.8 [30:59]
Duo op.7 for Violin and Cello [26:48]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Sonata for Violin and Cello [20:17]
CD 8 [65:26]
Fritz KREISLER (1875-1962)
Tambourin Chinois op.3 [3:58]
Schön Rosmarin [2:08]
Liebesleid [3:38]
Liebesfreud [3:47]
Caprice Viennoise op.2 [4:39]
Gypsy Caprice [5:36]
La Gitana [3:28]
Syncopation [1:59]
Londonderry Air [4:30]
Dancing Doll [2:36]
Polichinelle Serenade [2:22]
Rondino [2:41]
Toy Soldiers March [2:09]
The Old Refrain [4:13]
Marche Miniature Viennoise [3:26]
Viennese Rapsodic Fantasietta [9:28]
Recitativo und Scherzo - Caprice op.6 [4:41]
CD 9 [75:36]
Edouard LALO (1823-1892)
Fantaisie Originale op.1 [9:58]
Allegro Maestoso Op.2 in C minor [11:30]
Two Impromptus op.4 [8:01]
Pastorale op.8 in G Major [3;37]
Scherzo alla Pulcinella in E flat Major [5:09]
Sonata op.12 in D Major [20:13]
Soirees Parisiennes. Trois morceaux caracteristiques par Ch Wehle et Ed Lalo op.18 [9:27]. Arlecchino - Morceau caracteristique in G Major [3:50]
Guitare op.28 in B minor [3:44]
CD 10 [67:37]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Variations on a Norvegian Aria [15:25]
Sonata op.10 No.1 [9:07]
Sonata op.10 No.2 [9:43]
Sonata op.10 No.3 [4:47]
Sonata op.10 No.4 [6:06]
Sonata op.10 No.5 [11:06]
Sonata op.10 No.6 [10:30]
Luigi Alberto Bianchi (violin and viola)
with Aldo Orvieto (piano) - Bazzini: Piernarciso Masi (piano) - Kreisler: Dubra Kovacevich (piano) – Lalo: Caroline Haffner (piano) – Weber: Maurizio Preda (guitar) - Paganini:  Salvatore Accardo (violin) - Rolla: Franco Maggio Ormezowski (cello)
Berlin RIAS Orchestra/Jacques Delacôte – Paganini Sonata per le Grand Viola
Full contents list at end of review
DYNAMIC CDS 690/1-10 [10 CDs: 65:56 + 51:38 + 52:24 + 58:26 + 56:02 + 58:14 + 78:16 + 65:26 + 75:36 + 67:37]

Dynamic are making a habit – a good one in my book – of repackaging material into big nine or ten CD boxes and releasing them at favourable prices. A 10 CD Viotti Violin Concerto box, for example, is ‘as for three’. The box set under discussion here is devoted to violist and violinist Luigi Alberto Bianchi who was born in 1945, a man pursued by misfortune when it comes to his instruments. First his viola was stolen, then his violin. The first was a famous 1595 Amati, the second the Colossus Strad and to date only the Amati has been recovered.
The soloist and chamber player has made numerous recordings and this cross section, whilst steering clear of the central repertoire, such as his Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with Yehudi Menuhin (for obvious contractual reasons) nevertheless shows us his many strengths. Disc 1 is devoted to a recital of Bazzini. I’ve reviewed this separately so will direct you there, and will only add that I enjoyed his subtlety, charm and intelligence greatly. The next two discs are devoted to the Lucca Sonatas of Paganini in which he is accompanied by guitarist Maurizio Preda. Bianchi plays three famous Strads during the course of these two discs, if that should be of interest. These are gracious, often enchanting and technically undemanding works, but they do need a player versed in legato. Note how well Bianchi catches the bashful stuttering of the fourth sonata of Op.4 and his rather startling (not always effective) finger position changes. Still, he knows better than to inflate these charmers and plays with simplicity and warmth. The easy-on-the-ear music is graced by mock portentous heroics in No.4 from Op.1 and by Bianchi’s sheer elegance in the variations in No.1 from the Op.2 set.
For disc 4 he switches to his Amati viola. He plays Paganini’s Sonata per la Gran Viola with the RIAS Orchestra under Jacques Delacôte in a textually pure reading shorn of any emendations. The recital is primarily of Paganini and Sarasate, in which he showcases his evocative narrative and colouristic skills. He’s also adept at Kreisler, though perhaps missing intensity in his viola version of Bloch’s Nigun. The fifth disc brings the three Reger Viola Suites, an important undertaking that reveals a strong affinity with, and mastery of, Reger’s syntax. These are amongst the most important things in this set. He also plays the A minor Violin Sonata, though less well than he plays the Viola Suites.
Alessandro Rolla’s Duets for violin and viola see Bianchi teamed with his compatriot, Salvatore Accardo, who also has a boxed set dedicated to him on this label, and quite right too. These are lithe and lissom pieces, hardly earth-shattering in their import but genial and warm. The violin bears most of the expressive burden but where there are entwined dialogues they are charming. These are the earliest recordings dating from 1972. Bianchi plays a modern viola here – a 1965 model by Capicchioni. Disc seven is slightly odd inasmuch as there is a performance of Kodály’s great Sonata for solo cello. Even Bianchi, with all his dexterity, can’t play the cello, or if he can he can’t play Kodály’s sonata – very few cellists can really get around its manifold thickets. The cellist who tries hard is Franco Maggio Ormezowski. Bianchi then joins him for a decent Kodály Duo and Ravel’s Sonata for violin and cello.
Disc 8 is devoted to Kreisler pieces or ‘encores’ as Dynamic has it. Some favourites are here but in the main the selection is catholic. Bianchi plays them on the violin and his accompanist is Piernarciso Masi. I rather prefer his viola versions of Liebesleid and Liebesfreud and like almost all younger players – younger than Kreisler and his generation, that is – he takes the Londonderry Air at a very slow tempo. Disc 9 is all-Lalo, on the violin. The Fantasie Originale is an exotic and spicy work for an Op.1. Bianchi plays the D major Sonata with a good sense of direction but has some technical problems. Finally there is an all-Weber disc dominated by the violin sonatas. These are played with a mixture of gentility and drama, though in all fairness Bianchi is not as incisive, dramatic or communicative a player as Ruggiero Ricci in this repertoire. Few, indeed, are.
If you are a Bianchi admirer I’m sure there are things here, recorded over the space of three decades, that will be new to you.
Jonathan Woolf

If you are a Bianchi admirer I’m sure there are things here, recorded over the space of three decades, that will be new to you.