from the original CD booklet:
a Preghiera sulla Quarta Corda
The term "sonata" is often to be found in the titles
of Paganiniís works - the Sonata Napolťon, the Sonata Varsavia,
the Sonata Sentimentale. In this instance the term means "piece
to be played" as opposed to "cantata" which refers
to a work which is to be sung.
based his "Variations" on the famous
air by Rossini "Dal tuo Stallato
Soglio" which has delighted audiences ever since its first
appearance. The orchestral arrangement has been handed down
to us but not the violin score. We know that a signed such score
was produced but its whereabouts are now unknown. This, however,
should not surprise us. Like many other virtuousi Paganini was
reluctant to distribute the violin parts because he was afraid
that they might be copied. There are three variations. The use
of the "sul ponticello" notes with their characteristic
nasal features is rather curious. They add a surprising element
to those sounds which have already been heard. The "finale"
is also worthy of special notice.
Following precedent, it was Rossiniís theatrical work which
inspired these variations. Here Paganini is drawing upon the
theme "Di tanti palpiti, di tante pene" from the heroic
melodrama "Tancredi". Perhaps written in 1819 (the
work by Rossini had been performed at the Teatro La Fenice in
Venice in 1813), this piece however only came to be played in
public in 1828. In this work we encounter those typical features
of Paganiniís compositions which enabled him to achieve heights
of the greatest quality without abandoning advanced levels of
lyricism. There is also an extant version of this piece with
a harp accompaniment which was written by Paganini himself.
piu Mesta Accanto al Fuoco
A reliance upon opera themes is one of the characteristics of
Paganini the composer who with time became ever more sensitive
to the need to provide a "performance". His friend
Rossini gave him the opportunity to follow this path. The talent
of Paganini lies in his abilty to transpose musical forms from
another source onto the strings of a violin without diminishing
their original strength and effectiveness. "Non piý mesta"
is a work which is written with very great care and which concludes
with great musical virtuosity. It is based upon a famous part
from the light opera "Cenerentola ovvero la bonta in trionfo"
which was first performed at the Teatro Valle in Rome in 1817.
The piece employs the usual Paganini "scordatura"
of a semitone for the violin part, an element which is also
found in the previous works. The score for the second violin
has not remained to us. This signed piece is said to have been
given to the Count di Cessole e di Massa. We know about its
existence because of what is written on one of the orchestral
scores. This piece is made up of four variations and the last
- which is clearly transcendental is tone - involves evocative
Cor piu non mi Sento
Airs by Paisiello were employed by Paganini in a number of his
own compositions: one for a solo guitar, two for a solo violin
(one of which was published only recently), and one for violin
with violin and cello accompaniment (the manuscript of which
is kept in the British Library in London).
variations are based upon Guhrís transcriptions which are certainly
very faithful to the original because as the director of the
Frankfurt Orchestra this musician often had the opportunity
to meet Paganini, to listen to his playing, and to analyse his
techniques. As a result, he is a more than reliable authority.
These variations constitute a further expression of Paganiniís
playing technique which here undergoes a sort of super-explosion
of quality. We thus encounter trills plucked by the left hand,
chromatic sequences effected by wide bow movements, and arpeggios.
They represent a break with works dedicated exclusively to the
fourth string and they use all four strings to achieve a height
which involves an expression of the impossible.
This piece is radically different from the others and Paganini
classified it as his "Opera I". He himself dedicated
it to "artists", that is to say to those professional
musicians of a sufficient technical ability to overcome the
difficulties it presents. The "Capricci" are the result
of a critical reassessment of how to play the violin and the
outcome of new forms of virtuosity. They are veritable "studies"
in which the violinist performs everything of which the instrument
is capable in an exceptional creative synthesis. The violinist
achieves a fusion between the cadences of concert playing and
the features of private study. The "Capricci" thus
represent the first "transcendental" image, the outcome
of experiences achieved through contact with an audience which
listens to what is played and accepts the performance without
raising doubts or questions.
itself includes twenty-four pieces divided into three parts
and was certainly finished by 1817. Giovanni Ricordi catalogued
this work in January 1818 and publication took place in June
work by Paganini we find a recurrent element which is also to
be found in Domenico Scarlattiís "esercizi
per gravicembalao" (see CDC 006
P&P 1996). This element is the "sonata antica"
which has a single principal theme. It involves the exposition
of that theme; modulation of the tone of the dominant or the
relative if the beginning is in the minor key; then a somewhat
broad development and various changes in tonality; and finally
a new presentation of the theme and a return to the fundamental
tone. "Capricci" numbers 4 and 19, however, unfold
in a different way.
n.2 in B minor" is characterised by constant ups and downs
by the right hand and broad extension of the left hand. The
chromatic excursions are very long and markedly difficult. The
two base voices, one constant in form and the other involving
a melodic movement, give life to the tecnical motif which is
achieved with jumps over the strings (and more specifically
using the first, third and fourth) and a bow which is always
light and elastic in its employment.
"Capriccio n.14 in E flat major" it seems that Paganiniís
violin is engaged in an attempt to replace the whole orchestra
and it is certainly successful in this endeavour. This piece
has a progressive evolution: a chord, two chords, three chords
together, a re-expression on the keyboard, then four chords
together, and all this moving from piano to fortissimo. The
title which some people have used to describe this piece, "la
marcia", is inappropriate - there is nothing of the spirit
of a march to be found in its character.
fine contrast is one of the main features of "Capriccio
n. 21 in A major". The beginning of this piece - amoroso
"con espressione", something which is more than natural
to an aria from an opera - involves a melody which advances
on two chords in a way which suggests that it wants to bring
together two different vocal registers without, however, abandoning
light instrumental flights. In a way which is typical of Paganini,
the "presto" then suddenly emerges and we encounter
an explosion of rapid plucked scales and arpeggios of great