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Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
The Complete Works for Violin/Viola, Cello and Guitar
Serenata in C Major (1808) [12:59]
Terzetto in D Major (1833) [20:23]
Terzetto Concertante (1833) [24:18]
Nicola PAGANINI (1849-1923)
Polacca [3:49]
Nils-Erik Sparf (violin/viola)
Andreas Brantelid (cello)
David Härenstam (guitar)
rec. Havrebjerg Church, Denmark, May 2016
PROPRIUS PRCD2078 [61:11]

Paganini was not only the greatest violin virtuoso of his time, he was also a skilled guitarist and he composed a considerable amount of music for that instrument – solo works as well as various chamber works for strings and guitar. On this highly attractive disc we get his complete oeuvre for violin/viola, cello and guitar plus an interesting bonus, to which I’ll come back in a moment. He was a great virtuoso but he was also a great melodist and this can be enjoyed in the 18 centone di sonate for violin and guitar, available on three Naxos CDs from the mid-1990s with Moshe Hammer and Norbert Kraft. His melodic appeal is very much in focus on the present disc as well, which is far from being made up merely of violin showpieces, but rather offers ample opportunities for the other instruments to be in the foreground. The minuetto in the Terzetto concertante (tr. 11) is a good example of this ,where the guitar takes the lead accompanied by the viola and cello playing pizzicato – a really lovely piece of music. And this is only one instance of lovely and inventive writing. The youthful Serenata, composed for the wedding of his sister Domenica, which took place in Genoa in July 1808, is littered with imaginative melodic ideas, including a very beautiful Adagio non tanto and a vigorous quick rondo. In the original manuscript a Polacca has been inserted before that rondo, titled “Polacca at Terzetto n. 1, per Viola, Chitarra e violoncello di Nicola Paganini”. She was the grand daughter of Niccolò, born almost a decade after his death. Our three musicians wanted to play the Serenata in the order the composer had devised but included it, but included it directly after. And it is a nice little piece, composed by a person who lived until 1923. Theoretically at least there could be people still alive who met her!

The other two works are much later, both composed in London in 1833. The D Major Terzetto was a great success when Paganini, guitarist Luigi Legnani and an anonymous cellist toured with it in Italy the following year. The Terzetto Concertante was premiered on 14 May 1833 in a private home in London with Felix Mendelssohn playing the guitar part – but on the piano. Like the other works this is very charming music and in particular the concluding Valtz a rondo is a show-stopper. All the music here is excellently played by three of the most complete instrumentalists to be found. Sparf and Härenstam have worked together for many years and are well-represented in the CD catalogues (review ~ review), and the young Brantelid has a blossoming international career as soloist and chamber music player.

This may be music a bit off the beaten track but it is well worth anyone’s acquaintance and eminently well executed.

Göran Forsling



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