This attractive concert-style programme spans almost two centuries from
Paganini to Piazzolla, with Sarasate and de Falla in between. It’s quite
fun. In the beginning I thought: “Why would someone be interested in hearing
Paganini and Piazzolla together? It is either one or the other, depending on
the mood.” However, as time went by, I discovered that I liked this disc
exactly for this diversity: whether I am looking for virtuosity, tenderness
or passion, it is all there; just select the track. I keep this disc in my
car and return to it often. Even though it’s the programme that is the main
selling-point here, the performances are also top-notch, with a full-voiced,
eloquent guitar and a brilliant violin.
Piazzolla’s Histoire du tango
is a series of musical snapshots
taken along the path of the development of this dance from its cradle until
our own time. The suite was originally written for flute and guitar, which
were the first instruments of the tango. Bordello
is a cheerful and
welcoming place, but there are darker notes hiding in the corners.
flows with twilight melancholy; it has one of Piazzolla’s
memorable melodies, heartfelt and poignantly bittersweet. In this
arrangement however the music lacks base and weight in the low register.
is insistent and intense. The musicians are not overly
expressive and some kick is missing. It shouldn’t be too lean: it’s
Piazzolla, after all. The result is beautiful and touching but somehow stays
inside the square. Concert d’aujourd’hui
sounds like a finale of a
violin concerto – loud, with a strong obstinate beat and monotonous. The
latter might well be an inherent feature of the music, as I haven’t yet met
an interpretation of this movement that was not monotonous.
Out of the set of seven Spanish Songs
five were selected for the
arrangement. De Falla’s original piano accompaniment imitates the guitar so
it is naturally ported back to this instrument. This series of scenes - the
distressed El paño maruno,
, tender Nana
, and nervous Polo
– is played
expressively and with gusto. The violin sings beautifully, as befits music
that was originally written for a soprano voice. This is an excellent
performance, sensitive, thoughtful and involved.
Paganini’s Sonata concertata
is full of Italian charm and the
guitar gets to shine quite a lot. The opening movement is Mozartean, cheery
and witty. The slow movement is gloomy and laments most eloquently. The
finale is an energetic dance. The performers play with well-judged balance
Everyone knows the story of "Paganini and the One String", but
not everyone knows what he was playing at the time. The popular opinion is
that it was the famous last Caprice
– so fittingly diabolic. A more
informed opinion states that it actually was the Moses Fantasia for the
, and that work is indeed astonishing. Augustin Hadelich plays
with brilliance and panache, infallible precision and good humour. The
ending is pretty much incredible.
In Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen
Hadelich faces probably the biggest
competition, albeit not with the same accompaniment. The work sounds really
different without the orchestra, starting with the very first notes. This
heart-on-the-sleeve music can pack more heart on the big-sleeve of the
orchestra. On the other hand, the guitar is a natural accompaniment for
Gypsy songs, and the greater freedom of two instruments allows for better
rubato and a more improvisatory feeling. Although the guitar may not match
the histrionics of the violin, Hadelich voices enough emotion for two.
The recording is very clear, the instruments are placed
at the right distance, and all comes together well technically. Both musicians
play excellently, both from technical and expressive point of view.
The tone of the 1723 Kiesewetter Stradivarius is
beautiful, and the voice of the guitar is full enough to support it. Overall, this is an enjoyable album that leaves the impression of a