PAGANINI: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major; Violin Concerto No. 4; Variazioni sui Barucaba; Cantabile in D; Moto perpetuo; Cantabile e Valtz; Nel cor piu Variazioni sul Mose; Tarantella; Sonata No. 1 – Ruggiero Ricci, violin – IDI

by | Aug 5, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

PAGANINI: Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6; Violin
Concerto No. 4 in D Minor; Variazioni sui Barucaba; Cantabile in D;
Moto perpetuo, Op. 11; Cantabile e Valtz; Nel cor piu Variazioni sul
Mose; Tarantella; Sonata No. 1; Rondo from Concerto No. 1 in D

Ruggiero Ricci, violin Berlin Municipal Orchestra/Kurt Woss (Op. 6) I
Virtuosi di Assisi/Piero Mordini (Concerto No. 4; Rondo) US Army
Airforce Symphony Orchestra (Op. 11) Stefano Cardi/guitar

IDI IDIS 6439/40  66:28; 68:28 (Distrib. Qualiton)****:

The living legend, violinist Ruggiero Ricci (b. 1918) plays an
all-Paganini program via inscriptions made 1945-1996, which demonstrate
his consistently high level of virtuosity and the thoroughness with
which he investigates any composer whose works fascinate him. I met
Ricci in Atlanta, when he gave the premier of the Ginastera Violin
Concerto, which Ricci openly acknowledged as an homage to Paganini. In
his hotel, on a weekend afternoon, Ricci played me a portion of the
Sarasate Serenade Anadalouse, Op .28, which he had recorded so
magnificently with Brooks Smith for Decca.

The real addition to Ricci’s recorded legacy comes in the form of the
Concerto No. 4 (1970s) with Piero Mondini, and in the extended series
of solo works inscribed 1996 (Variazioni sui Barucaba) and 1993
(Cantabile, Sonata No. 1, etc.). The D Minor Concerto had been
unearthed around 1954 and subsequently recorded by Arthur Grumiaux.
Ricci quickly took the Concerto into his own repertory, and the
polished, flashy instrumental gloss is a real tour de force. The D
Major Concerto with Woss is one of those cut-edition affairs, a la
Heifetz, to get the solo in quickly, although the cadenzas are
self-indulgently justifying. So while the orchestral tuttis are
diminished, the bravura interchanges are preserved. For more thrilling
moments, try the encore cut: the last movement of the D Major Concert
alone with Mordini, which adds almost three minutes of sheer unbuttoned
virtuosity to the score and drives the audience wild.

The Baracuba Variations (from Salzburg, 11-13, 1996) is a grand work, a
kind of Goldberg Variations for solo violin, without the intellection.
In three parts, the whole lasts a good half-hour, demonstrating (like
the Op. 1 Caprices) the full range of the instrument’s singing,
dynamic, and harmonic capacities. Double and triple stops, broken
chords, shifts of registrations, quick alternation of arco and plucked
passagework, harmonics, upbow and downbow attacks, spiccato and
glissando runs; you name it.  How compelling all this is depends
on the listener’s devotion to solo playing; this isn’t the Bach
partitas. Many of the individual variants are but a few bars long,
sometimes just a monument to one technique. The sweet Cantabile in D
(and subsequent pieces) has a guitar accompaniment, courtesy of the
gifted Mr. Cardi. The Cantabile and Waltz is affecting in its
simplicity. The Sonata No. 1 is from the Op. 2 set of six, based
loosely on the Viotti/Tartini style and rife with Paganini’s own
embellishments. The Mose Fantasy is still a staggering demonstration of
what one violin string can do.  The Tarantella is pert folk dance
worth some air time, you classical DJs. The 1945 Moto Perpetuo suffers
the most sonic deterioration, but as a document of Ricci’s playing for
the GI’s, it is priceless.

–Gary Lemco

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