Sonig Tchakerian

Paganini: Capricci Nos. 1-24

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While Sonick Tchakerian brings ample energy and bravado to this 2003 recording of Paganini's Caprices (24) for solo violin, she nevertheless falls short in several areas, and this disc is a disappointment. First, and perhaps most critical to her sound, Tchakerian plays a violin made by Gennaro Gagliano in 1760. However familiar it is to her, this temperamental instrument seems unresponsive to her coaxing here, often sounding dull and boxy instead of clear and penetrating. Second, Tchakerian's intonation is off in many places. To some extent, this may be excused in the fast caprices, which are almost inhuman in their demands; but there is little reason to forgive her near-octaves and pitch approximations in the slower numbers, where Paganini's complications are less daunting. Third, Tchakerian's highly resinous tone grates, making listening an unpleasant duty rather than an enjoyable experience. This scratchiness may be due to the close microphone placement, which would make any performance seem a little gritty. But Tchakerian seems to exert a great amount of pressure on the bow, which scrapes across the strings, and she produces a heavy martellato effect in passages where lighter bowing is desirable. The recording is not equalized, so the sound is only as variable as Tchakerian's inconsistent playing makes it.

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