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'Beyond Praise' for Performances of Works by Antonio Bazzini

Antonio Bazzini: Works for Violin and Piano. Chloë Hanslip, violin; Caspar Frantz, piano. (Naxos)


Though known now only for his "Dance of the Goblins," Antonio Bazzini (1818-1897) must have been an admirably versatile musician. While still in his teens, he was maestro di capella of a church in his native Brescia for which he composed six oratorios and other sacred works.

Following the advice of no less an authority on violin playing than Paganini, he embarked on a career as a traveling virtuoso when he was 19. While touring in Germany, he stayed in Leipzig for several years, and is said to have given one of the first private performances of Mendelssohn's violin concerto. As was the custom of the day, Bazzini wrote bravura pieces for his own concert use.

This disc proves that he was a master of the genre of charming salon pieces popular at the time. The program recorded here aims at utmost variety, featuring both brilliant and effusively romantic character pieces.

Published between 1845 and 1864, these works demonstrate Bazzini's progress in compositional technique and harmonic inventiveness. All are short, though one set of three is entitled "en forme de sonate" and opens with a substantial sonata-form movement. The slow, lyrical pieces are dreamy, melancholy, delicate, abounding in lovely melodies. The fast ones are whimsical, vigorous, bouncy, and full of dazzling instrumental fireworks.

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