Niccolò Paganini

Violin Concerto No. 1 in E flat major (usually transposed to D major), Op. 6, MS 21

    Description by Edward Moore

    Paganini's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 is a virtuosic tour de force and reveals not only Paganini's incredible technical ability, but also his melodic sensitivity and skillful exploitation of dramatic structure. Like many of his other works, this concerto takes inspiration from the musical language of Gioachino Rossini's operas, which were extremely popular at the time. Paganini originally composed the Concerto No. 1 in the unusual key of E flat major, in order to achieve a more brilliant tone for the violin. However, since modern concert pitches are much higher than was the norm in Paganini's era, the standard modern version of the piece is transposed to the key of D major, which also makes the very thin E string of the violin less susceptible to breakage (Paganini often broke several strings during a single concert performance). By modern standards the technical demands of the concerto are only moderate, but in Paganini's time they were considered tremendous, and many contemporaries branded the piece "unplayable." This, of course, served as valuable publicity that helped Paganini become the most popular soloist of his day. The work is indeed a catalog of such flashy techniques as extended arpeggios, left-hand pizzicati, rapid runs in thirds, fifths, and even harmonics. The work is more than a mere virtuoso showpiece, however. Paganini's concerto is filled with elegant melodic themes, and there are moments of striking beauty. One legend holds that Paganini composed the main theme of the second movement on a one-string violin while languishing in prison under suspicion of a murder he did not commit. Such legends grow up naturally around the dynamic (and, some said, demonic) Paganini, but they also reflect the appeal and mystique of his music. Paganini's aura of mystery was amplified by his refusal to allow his works to be published during his lifetime, making it impossible for his rivals to study and master his techniques. The Concerto No. 1 was published only after his death, and it soon became a fixture in the repertoire of lesser virtuosos who were as adept, more or less, in the technical department, but not nearly as musically compeling as Paganini. Fortunately, many great twentieth century soloists have concentrated on the musicality of the piece as much as the virtuosity.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro maestoso
    2. Adagio espressivo
    3. Rondo. Allegro spiritoso

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Rhine Classics RH 001
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4816381
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796220
    2016 SWR Music SWR 19019CD
    2016 Decca / Philips 4788977
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88985321742
    2016 EuroArts / Warner Classics 555050
    2016 Warner Classics 0825646777044
    2016 Warner Classics 555054
    2015 Melodiya MELCD 1002349
    2015 Warner Classics 0825646130375
    2014 Warner Classics 5099901928129
    2014 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 14010
    2014 K-Tel 135920
    2013 Entertainment Group 14126
    2013 Antes Edition BM 319287
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94803
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Entertainment Group 4008
    2012 Naxos 8501058
    2012 ZYX Music CLABOX 007
    2012 Doron Music 4022
    2012 Centaur Records 31867
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2011 Entertainment Group 1017
    2011 Entertainment Group 1018
    2011 EMI Classics 6790602
    2011 Entertainment Group 1209
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 446 572-2PM
    2011 The Entertainment Group 1034
    2011 Testament SBT 61471
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94096
    2010 IDIS 6594
    2010 EMI Classics 6483972
    2010 Decca
    2010 Newton Classics 8802028
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Telos 46
    2009 Berlin Classics 00116462BC
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Challenge Classics 72343
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Dynamic 622/1-8
    2009 Decca 4781149
    2009 Decca
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099926413
    2008 Claves 502808
    2008 Challenge Classics 72197
    2008 Medici Arts MM023-2
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon
    2007 Apex 699872
    2007 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186178
    2007 Doremi Records 7906
    2007 Warner Classics 8570260
    2006 Vista Vera 98
    2006 Naxos Historical 8111135
    2006 Doremi Records 7897
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 000718802
    2006 Weitblick 8
    2006 Doremi Records 7874-9
    2006 Berlin Classics 0185792BC
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Document 223010
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 64123
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 47088
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal Classics & Jazz
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Decca 4767488
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 IDIS 6439/40
    2005 Berlin Classics 0032402
    2005 Brilliant 92436
    2005 EMI Classics 659642
    2004 IDIS 6409
    2004 EMI Classics 62594
    2004 Delta Distribution 16386
    2003 Decca 000151002
    2003 Dynamic 450/1-4
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Laserlight / Delta Distribution 40043
    2003 EMI Classics 85083
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 85562
    2002 Bridge 9125
    2002 Vox VXP7905
    2002 Testament 1226
    2002 Doremi Records 7780
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 557151
    2001 EMI Classics 65959
    2001 Brilliant 99582
    2001 Forlane 53
    2001 Erato 27001
    2001 Doremi Records 7781
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 463754
    2000 Aura Classics 0228
    2000 Dynamic 260
    2000 Philips / Philips Classics 4681732
    1999 Biddulph Recordings LAB102
    1999 BIS 999
    1999 Philips 422332
    1999 Philips 462 865-2PM2
    1997 Melodiya 40720
    1997 Point Classics 267150
    1997 Decca
    1997 One-Eleven 96030
    1997 Dynamic 203
    1996 Chandos 9492
    1996 A Classical Record 37
    1995 ZYX Music 4127
    1995 Laserlight 14275
    1995 One-Eleven 94020
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 55026
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 439981
    1994 Naxos 550649
    1993 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 0777764922
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 437210
    1992 Erato 45788
    1992 Deutsche Grammophon 429786
    1992 Teldec 73266
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 47661
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 429524
    1990 EMI Classics 007777470882
    1988 Rca Red Seal 71048
    1986 Deutsche Grammophon 415 378-2GH
    1984 EMI Music Distribution 47101
    One-Eleven 91020
    Arlecchino 10
    Panton Records 0529
    Platinum Entertainment 4462
    Hungaroton White Label 162
    Arabesque 6597
    One-Eleven 95013
    Arkadia 404
    Denon Records 77611
    White Label 162
    Philips 422230
    Deutsche Grammophon 29786
    Brilliant 92436/5
    DeBone
    Disques Pierre Verany 730009
    Classical Records 37
    Pearl 9460
    Panton Records 811302