Only a Virtuoso Like Philippe Quint Could Do This Paganini Justice
Paganini: La campanella, Le streghe, Philippe Quint, violin; Dmitry Cogan, piano (Naxos)
Only a virtuoso would dare take on these pieces, composed by Nicolò Paganini and arranged by Fritz Kreisler—violinist Philippe Quint is fully equal to their challenges. Trained in his native Russia and in New York, where he now lives, he has performed worldwide on stage, radio, and television.
Two of his recordings, which include concertos by Ned Rorem and Miklós Rózsa, have received Grammy Award nominations.
This record concentrates on bravura display that leaves no violinistic resource unexplored: harmonics; left-hand pizzicato; double-, triple- and quadruple-stops; staccato; ricochet; and, of course, running passages at hair-raising speeds, especially in the Moto perpetuo.
His pure tone can be both sonorous and radiant—its only flaw is a fast, never-changing vibrato.
The program features “La campanella,” the finale of Paganini’s Second Violin Concerto; variations on themes from two Rossini operas and from a ballet by Mozart’s pupil Süssmayr, where Quint spins long singing lines in true bel canto style; and three caprices, including the famous No. 24, a set of variations whose theme inspired many later composers.
Kreisler “arranged” these pieces mainly by substituting his own music for sections he had altered or cut. His real contribution was providing sometimes overly elaborate piano parts for the unaccompanied caprices, and replacing Paganini’s rather naïve accompaniments for the rest with more sophisticated ones.
A disc for aficionados of fine fiddling.