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From Paganini’s Violin Adaptations on Rossini’s Works

October 23, 2009

The Beginning

Recently I was fascinated by Paganini’s violin adaptations on some opera works (actually variations). First by Paganini’s Variations on the G String on a Theme from Rossini’s “Mose”[1]. The version I have is played by David Oistrakh in 1952 from this CD box set “Concertos and Encores“, which I bought not long ago.

The best version I found in YouTube is the one played by Kogan (its mono sound quality is slightly poor than Oistrakh’s but is listenable)

All those beautiful notes just come from one string in the violin. Quite amazing. Notice that the change of tempo and style at 2:45. Kogan’s playing after 2:45 is faster than Oistrakh’s by 40 seconds.

The Passage

I actually have some CDs of Paganini’s adaptation works (need to check) before, but they didn’t drive me into obsession mode. Now I wanted more. More, for instance, on this aria from Rossini’s, and more on Paganini’s adaptation works for violin. And that got me to know his “I Palpiti”, Op13, from The Art of Ruggiero Ricci (disc two from a 5CD box set) (which is accompanied by the orchestra).

I Palpiti (Variations on “Di tanti palpiti” from Rossini’s Tancredi): here are two versions found in YouTube

See this for more about Franco Gulli.

Ivry Gitlis is the commentator in “The Art of Violin” DVD (along with Itzhak Palman; I have that DVD).

Later, I noticed that I already had Vengerov’s 1993 recording of “I Palpilti” for a while (before the year 2000, I think), and apparently I wasn’t very interested. Not sure whether it’s Vengerov or me. πŸ˜• People change. Now I went back to listen his playing with more attention. Hmm.. it’s all right. 😐

I also got Arthur Grumiaux’s recording in 1956-58 from The Early Recordings (a 3CD box set) from the library. Grumiaux’s playing is much gentle. Quite different. It’s the longest one among the versions I have heard.

For a quick comparison, let’s listen to the ending after the slow section, which is about 1 min to nearly 2 min:

  • Gulli’s (after 08:48) — the shortest one. After a little bit cadenza around 0:35, Gulli ends it very quickly without extra exaggeration.
  • Gitlis’s (after 7:28)Β  — the 2nd shortest. His version is the same as Ricci, but faster after 0:37 when the the melodic tune (related to the main theme) comes in, which is not heard in Gulli’s.
  • Ricci’s (after 08:16)
  • Vengerov’s (after 09:05) — I think this has Kreisler’s arrangement. It’s like Gulli’s but without Gulli’s little cadenza, and repeats the same quick tempo of the first part (0:37–1:00) before goes to the ending.
  • Grumiaux’s (after 09:05) — the slowest one. Grumiaux adds some extra notes after 0:38 before playing the melodic tune at 0:48. He does that in a slower tempo than Ricci’s.

Notice that the overall volume is about 89 dB for the complete tracks but the intensity for this part is different among them.

Which ending do you like? Personally, it’s Ricci’s that first got my attention and put me into a quest (well, sort of πŸ˜‰ ), so that would have more weight than others. I’m not keen on Kreisler’s arrangement here. Maybe that explains why I wasn’t very interested before, does it? 😐

(to be continued)

[1] Regarding Rossini’s Mose.

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