MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

 58,771 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing from

Niccolò PAGANINI (1782-1840)
Sonatas for Violin and Guitar
Sonata No. 1 in A major [12:00]
Sonata No. 2 in D major [10:55]
Sonata No. 3 in C major [6:47]
Sonata No. 4 in A major [14:21]
Sonata No. 5 in E major [16:28]
Sonata No. 6 in A major [13:57]
Gianfranco Iannetta (violin)
Walter Zanetti (guitar)
rec. September 2018, Oratorio di San Giovanni Evangelista, Gaggio Montano, Bologna, Italy
TACTUS TC781606 [74:52]

Common knowledge of Paganini’s music may revolve around his violin pieces. He is regarded as the “father of romantic playing and as a legendary violinist”. But Giorgio Ruberti’s booklet essay points out that he was equally adept as a guitarist, and had a lifelong love for the instrument. The booklet notes present reports of his guitar recitals, and even of him accompanying singers on the instrument.

Paganini began to learn the violin when he was seven, but he was already proficient with the mandolin after his father had taught him for the previous two years. It is thought this was what gave him the love for the guitar. The Moretti and Sorrento’s catalogue of the composer’s works shows that his earliest work, the 14 Variations on the French Hymn Carmagnole from around 1795, was composed for violin and guitar.

The sonatas on this disc, writen in late 1828, are the first of three sets of six sonatas given the catalogue number M.S. 112 a, b and c. Each gets a single track even if all except the Third Sonata have two movements. At least there are index points, which help, for example, tell the slow shimmering introduction of Sonata No. 1 in A major from the first movement proper. The violin is the star, and the guitar mainly supports the melodic line, but there is some nice writing for the instrument, which inventively underpins the violin line.

The sonatas are not as excitingly virtuosic as, say, Paganini’s Caprices, but they are well constructed and beautifully melodic, and they offer a different, equally rewarding kind of virtuosity. They show Paganini’s tender and lilting side. From the opening Introduzione: Larghetto of the first movement of Sonata No. 1 and its development into the Allegro maestoso, you know the music is gripping without the showmanship. Paganini employs the violin in an almost songlike manner; it is the melody that matters here and in the other five of these charming sonatas. In the passionate slower sections of the single-movement C major Sonata No. 3, the plucked strings of the guitar are matched by those of the violin before a lovely lilting main theme enters. The variations in the E major Sonata No. 5 are quite imaginative. The A major Sonata No. 6 shows Paganini at his best. The Larghetto cantabile movement wears its heart on its sleeve with the warmly lyrical melodic line. The Rondo: Allegro assai movement has an allegiance to the opening section of the first movement.

The sweet tone of Gianfranco Iannetta’s violin blends well with Walter Zanetti’s guitar. The playing, very fine indeed, benefits from the expertly caught acoustics of the Oratorio di San Giovanni Evangelista. Giorgio Ruberti’s notes offers real insight into Paganini the man, the composer and the performer. This is a winner here. I look forward with more than a little hope to more volumes of this series of works.

Stuart Sillitoe

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount