Saturday, March 23, 2013

Paganini violin concertos: how to listen

Where could I have gotten the idea from? I believe that an instrument concerto is nothing more than a medium for the featured instrument to showcase its possibilities with the helping hand of the orchestra on various parts and by itself on the solos. Probably the best examples of this odd notion of mine are Paganini's violin concertos.

If you ever wish to listen them to, I would recommend you to listen them to backwards, starting with the sixth and finishing with the first. In my own opinion, as the numbers decrease the experience gets better and as a listener you build momentum as you near zero. Only a slight modification though: save #4 for the the very last. This one is very special, not only for the music itself, but because it was performed live just once by Paganini and was lost until it was rediscovered in the 50s. So we are lucky to have the chance to listen to it at all.

Many serious listeners would point out that Paganini's concertos are not the best of the genre and that in fact are poorly orchestrated. Even more, they would put forth some  (in their opinion) better alternatives, such as the violin concertos of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bruch & Sibelius. In the interest of objectivity I decided to check all of these out and see if this is the case. As of yet, I've not been able to locate Schumman's concerto though and am unwilling to listen to it from a Youtube video. I'll let you know when I finally get around to listen to all these other concertos.

Before leaving Paganini altogether, I have to say that, besides the concertos you must really check out, the capricci of course , some of the guitar music, the Maestosa Sonata Sentimentale and the variations on God Save the King.


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