Paganini: String Quartets

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Composer: Nicolò Paganini
Artists: Amati Ensemble String Quartet, Gil Sharon, Sonja van Beek, Ron Ephrat , Floris Mijnders

Sharing the same opus number as the famous set of 24 Caprices for solo violin, these three wonderful quartets enjoyed considerable popularity during Paganini’s own lifetime. Composed 1815–18, they were dedicated to the King of Sardinia and the Duke of Naples, Vittorio Emanuele I.

That Paganini often performed these works himself explains why they differ somewhat from quartets by his contemporaries: the first violin is effectively a soloist, giving the composer the opportunity to display his virtuosic brilliance against a background of support from the other players. In lieu of writing markings and instructions in the parts, therefore, it is left to the performers, especially the first violinist, to improvise decorative passages – a freedom Paganini would have enjoyed and encouraged.

The style of the music is pre-Romantic, and the overall feel is one of Haydn and Mozart’s world – only simplified. Well-constructed and balanced with a hint of the romantic exuberance found in the composer’s concertos and caprices, these delightful works contain some beautiful melodic writing and comprise a fantastic disc which illustrates another facet of Paganini’s genius.

Tracklist

00:00:00 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 1a: I. Allegro maestoso
00:08:33 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 1a: II. Minuetto: Allegretto
00:11:49 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 1a: III. Adagio
00:15:46 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 1a: IV. Rondeau: Allegretto con brio
00:18:22 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 2 in E-Flat, Op. 1a: I. Maturato
00:25:26 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 2 in E-Flat, Op. 1a: II. Minuetto: Allegretto
00:29:29 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 2 in E-Flat, Op. 1a: III. Adagio
00:34:03 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 2 in E-Flat, Op. 1a: IV. Finale: Prestissimo
00:39:28 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 1a: I. Largo – Allegro
00:46:22 Paganini: String Quartet No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 1a: II. Minuetto: Andantino
00:49:36 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 1a: III. Andante con variazioni
00:54:58 Nicolò Paganini: String Quartet No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 1a: IV. Finale: Presto

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