While the image of the "devilish" Paganini as composer and ultimate virtuoso of the violin may be inescapable, it was neither the only instrument on which he was proficient, nor was it the only instrument that was graced with his compositional efforts. Paganini was also an accomplished guitarist and, while they are less known, wrote a considerable body of works for the instrument. This Ondine album features some of the duos written for violin and guitar. His works for guitar are less overtly virtuosic than his violin works, but still require the utmost in technique. Finnish-born violinist Pekka Kuusisto is joined by guitarist Ismo Eskelinen for this thoroughly enjoyable and exciting recording. The pairing of violin and guitar is an immensely pleasing one, allowing the violin to play at a comfortable volume throughout without worry of being drowned out by a domineering piano. The tones of the two instruments perfectly complement each other, and both Kuusisto and Eskelinen bring an abundance of tone colors to the table, which only enhances the blend and balance. Kuusisto's technique is stunning as he tosses off even the most demanding spectacles of pyrotechnics with playful ease while maintaining virtually flawless intonation and pleasing tone. Likewise, Eskelinen executes his own part with satisfying ease. The dialogue between the two instruments is seamless, spontaneous, and riveting from start to finish.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonata concertata, for guitar & violin in A major, Op. 61, MS 2|
|Sonata for violin & guitar in A minor (Centone di sonate, Letter A/1), MS 112/1|
|Sonata for violin & guitar in D major (Centone di sonate, Letter A/2), MS 112/2|
|Sonata for violin & guitar in A major (Centone di sonate, Letter A/4), MS 112/4|
|Sonata for violin & guitar in E minor, Op. 3/6, MS 27/6|