Henryk Szeryng: Eight Great Recordings

Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Henryk Szeryng (1918-1988), one of the twentieth century’s greatest violinists. “When hearing Szeryng in live performances, one is always struck by the nobility and aristocracy of his concept,” wrote Boris Schwarz in his book, Great Masters of the Violin. In the recordings below, we hear effortlessly shaped phrases and a sense of singing through every note. Born in Poland, Szeryng studied with Carl Flesch in Berlin and was later …

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Ruggiero Ricci: Five Great Recordings

You have to try for the impossible, just in order to make the possible possible. -Ruggiero Ricci Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the twentieth century’s greatest violinists, Ruggiero Ricci (1918-2012). Born near San Francisco to Italian immigrant parents, Ricci exploded onto the scene as a child prodigy, performing his first public concert in 1928 at the age of 10. At the age of 7, he began …

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New Release: Augustin Hadelich Plays Paganini’s 24 Caprices

Niccolò Paganini’s 24 Caprices, written between 1802 and 1817, are spectacular feats of daredevil virtuosity. With an unabashed bravura, they push the violin toward its technical limits. But Augustin Hadelich’s newest album reveals the drama, humor, and sunny Bel Canto tunefulness which is the true essence of this music. In a recent interview, Hadelich said, When Paganini performed, men and women often wept and fainted, not necessarily because they were dazzled by his virtuosic …

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New Release: Rachel Barton Pine’s Bel Canto Paganini

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine tackles Paganini’s 24 Caprices with virtuosic flair and sonorous ease on her newest album, Bel Canto Paganini. The album’s title highlights the link between Paganini’s music and the “beautiful singing” melodic style of Italian opera composers like Rossini, Bellini, and Verdi. In addition to the Caprices, the two CD set includes a number of bonus tracks: Paganini’s Introduction and Variations on “Nel cor più non mi sento” from Paisiello’s La molinara, Duo merveille, Op. 6 “Duet …

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10 Musical Adaptations of “God Save the Queen”

On Monday, Britain celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee, marking her 65 years on the throne. At 90, Her Majesty is the world’s longest-reigning monarch. The milestone reminded me of the nearly 140 composers who have created musical adaptations of God Save the Queen, an ancient melody that may have originated in plainchant long before it was attributed to the English composer and organ-builder John Bull in 1619. Here are ten of the most …

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Salvatore Accardo and the Spirit of Paganini

It’s hard to imagine any better recordings of Paganini than those of Italian violinist Salvatore Accardo (b. 1941). Accardo was the winner of the 1958 Paganini Competition. His playing not only demonstrates technical mastery of Paganini, it sparkles with the effortless and fun-loving spirit of Italian opera. You can hear this in his performance of the First Violin Concerto. Listen to his recording of the Twenty-Four Caprices here and here . Here is …

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The Elegant Artistry of Arthur Grumiaux

Elegance, good taste and a beautiful, bell-like singing tone were all characteristics of Franco-Belgian violinist Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986). In contrast to today’s relatively homogenized violin playing, Grumiaux exhibits a distinctly French style. Listening to Grumiaux, I’m also struck by the musical honesty and lack of fussiness in his playing. His musical phrases speak with a purity and simplicity which is hard to come by today. In his book, Great Masters of the …

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