Alexander Gibson / Henryk Szeryng

Paganini: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 4

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The name Niccolò Paganini almost instantly conjures up an image of the quintessential virtuoso. The composition most commonly associated with his name is the set of 24 Caprices, which are undeniable demonstrations of sheer technique and prowess on the violin. However, the violin concertos are not so entirely dedicated to dazzling audiences with almost unbelievable feats of extended techniques. Rather, they juxtapose moments of technically showing off with opportunities for the soloist to show off musically as well. Violinist Henryk Szeryng is an artist quite adept at delivering on these changing demands. The virtuosic elements of the concertos are tossed off with apparent ease; just as effortless are the extensive lyrical passages that Szeryng gives almost a vocal quality along with his highly recognizable dark, rich tone. The orchestra part is much more than a mere accompaniment; extended tutti passages give the London Symphony Orchestra opportunities to be enjoyed just as much as Szeryng. Presented here on SACD, the sound quality of orchestra and soloist alike are exceptional; when listening in multichannel mode, listeners are given the impression that they are sitting right next to Szeryng on the stage. Szeryng fans will certainly wish to add this album to their collection, and anyone seeking a technically and musically satisfying recording of these works will not be disappointed.

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