Thursday, 18 December 2008

215. Nicollo Paganini - Violin Concertos nos. 1-6 (1815-30)


Title: Accardo Plays Paganini, Complete Recordings
Performers: Salvatore Accardo, London Philharmonic Orchestra
Director: Charles Dutoit
Year: 1974-76
Length: 3 hours


Here's the violin concertos by Paganini. If Paganini is famous for something it is his extremely complex and show-offy violin technique and these concertos put it to great use. The violin playing by Accardo is exceptional.

With show-offy pieces comes some criticism about technique over music, in this case however, Paganini manages to marry both pretty well and the music is constantly interesting even if the highlights are the solo parts.

Of the six concertos the first two are the highlights, they are stupendously impressive pieces that deserve to be enjoyed. Paganini has quite a good grasp of melody, and the things he does with that violin are pretty novel.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The first exhaustive exploration of violin technique was found in the 24 caprices of Pietro Locatelli (1693-1746) which, at the time of writing, proved to be too difficult to play, although they are now quite playable. Rudimentary usage of harmonics and left hand pizzicato could be found in the works of Auguste Durand, who allegedly developed the techniques. While it was questionable whether Paganini pioneered many of these violinistic effects that defined his music, it was certain that his mastery of these techniques was instrumental in popularizing their use in regular compositions.

Another aspect of Paganini's violin techniques concerned his flexibility. He had exceptionally long fingers and was capable of playing three octaves across four strings in a hand span, a feat that is still considered impossible by today's standards. His seemingly unnatural ability might have been a result of Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Cadenza of the first movement of the first concerto by Accardo:


Anonymous said...

Hi Francisco!
This blog is a wonderful idea, congratulations!
Just like you, I'm a masochistic guy who bought this holy trinity: 1001 albums, 1001 books, 1001 classical recordings and intend to come over everything written about there.
I would like to suggest you something about the classical recordings:
What about giving a range (say from 1 star to 5 stars or from 1 to 10 ,I don't know) about the "difficulty" of the recording you talk about.
When you don't know nothing about classical music, I guess you'd like to start with the easiest compositions and then follow a logical progress in order not to disgust you on how inaccessible music can be sometimes.
That was just a suggestion...
(Sorry for my bad english, I'm from France)
S├ębastien (

Francisco Silva said...

Hi S├ębastien,

I think that might be a good idea, but it makes more sense when you get to the 20th century and you get some dissonance and cacophony going.

Until then stuff can be more or less boring, but I think not a lot of them are difficult to listen to.