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Paganini: Caprices for Solo Violin / Tanja Becker-Bender

Album Summary

>Paganini, Niccolò : Caprices (24) for Violin solo, Op. 1
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

In his day, Paganini's Caprices were considered unplayable by most violinists, but the composer himself bestrode their difficulties with contemptuous ease. Paganini was the archetype of the virtuoso performer. His technique was so phenomenal, and his presence so magnetic, that he was popularly believed to be in league with the Devil. Virtuoso violinists are plentiful these days, but the challenges posed by the Caprices are still daunting. Few can achieve such brilliance in this repertoire as the young German violinist Tanja Becker-Bender has in her debut recording for Hyperion.

'A sparkling, cleaned-up version of Paganini, sounding the more amazing for its polish and clarity, and bringing into focus the poetic, romantic sensibility that enthralled the composer's contemporaries. I can't remember hearing the flute and horn imitations in the Ninth Caprice more persuasively performed, and in No 21, marked amoroso, Becker-Bender manages to retain a tender, intimate tone where many of her rivals equate amorousness with crude intensity. The more brilliant passages are just as successful ... I'm sure Paganini himself would have been impressed and delighted' (Gramophone)

'This superb new recording ... These are marvellous performances, full of freshness and vitality, technically accomplished yet spontaneous sounding and highly expressive ... Becker-Bender's imagination really shines through in those of a more picturesque nature ... Another exceptional release from Hyperion' (International Record Review)

'If anyone is ever likely to convince you that there is more to Paganini's music than Rossini-in-technical overdrive melodramatics, it is Tanja Becker-Bender ... Becker-Bender gives the Italian's coruscating roulades more room to breathe, characterising each caprice as though it was microcosmic masterpiece of musical expression' (BBC Music Magazine)

'[An] elegant album.. Hewitt's sensitive clarity of line propels the light figures forward while retaining the charm of musical personality... To paraphrase G.B. Shaw, happy is the pianist whose Haydn is his profession' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

bbc.co.uk - Charlotte Gardner
Becker-Bender's performance is noteworthy for the nonchalance with which she glosses over these difficulties with enough mental effort left over to convincingly hold the musical thought and line...She plays with intensity and maturity, is brilliant of tone in the higher registers, and full-bodiedly gutsy lower down. The performance is impressive on every level

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
After nearly 200 years, the Paganini Caprices still present a formidable challenge to violinists. The character of the music may persuade them to adopt a bold, theatrical approach (without minding too much about small imperfections of tuning or passages of rough tone); others may prefer a more careful, considered attitude, striving for accuracy and beauty. Tanja Becker- Bender belongs to the second camp. For a few minutes you might wonder if she is missing something of the virtuoso thrill transmitted, but soon you'll be won over.

Adopting generally slower speeds, she has time to turn the music gracefully, articulate cleanly, achieve remarkable purity of tuning, and use variations of tone-colour to open up the music's expressive potential. This results in a sparkling, cleaned-up version of Paganini, sounding the more amazing for its polish and clarity, and bringing into focus the poetic, romantic sensibility that enthralled the composer's contemporaries.

Rarely have the flute and horn imitations in the Ninth Caprice been more persuasively performed, and in No 21, marked amoroso, Becker-Bender manages to retain a tender, intimate tone where many of her rivals equate amorousness with crude intensity. The more brilliant pieces are just as successful. Paganini himself would surely have been impressed and delighted.



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Works Details

>Niccolò Paganini (Composer/Violin) (1782 - 1840) : Caprices (24) for Violin solo, Op. 1
  • Performer: Tanja Becker-Bender (Violin)
  • Running Time: 76 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: circa 1817