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Track Listing:

Paganini Introduction and Variations in G Op.38
Paganini Caprice in E Op.1 No.1 (Andante)
Paganini Caprice in B minor Op.1 No.2 (Moderato)
Paganini Caprice in E minor Op.1 No.3 (Sostenuto Presto Sostenuto)
Paganini Caprice in C minor Op.1 No.4 (Maestoso)
Paganini Caprice in A minor Op.1 No.5 (Agitato)
Paganini Caprice in G minor Op.1 No.6 (Lento)
Paganini Caprice in A minor Op.1 No.7 (Posato)
Paganini Caprice in E flat Op.1 No.8 (Maestoso)
Paganini Caprice in E Op.1 No.9 (Allegretto)
Paganini Caprice in G minor Op.1 No.10 (Vivace)
Paganini Caprice in C Op.1 No.11 (Andante Presto Andante)
Paganini Caprice in A flat Op.1 No.12 (Allegro)
Paganini Caprice in B flat Op.1 No.13 (Allegro)
Paganini Caprice in E flat Op.1 No.14 (Moderato)
Paganini Caprice in E minor Op.1 No.15 (Posato)
Paganini Caprice in G minor Op.1 No.16 (Presto)
Paganini Caprice in E flat Op.1 No.17 (Sostenuto Andante)
Paganini Caprice in C Op.1 No.18 (Corrente Allegro)
Paganini Caprice in E flat Op.1 No.19 (Lento Allegro assai)
Paganini Caprice in D Op.1 No.20 (Allegretto)
Paganini Caprice in A Op.1 No.21 (Amoroso Presto)
Paganini Caprice in F Op.1 No.22 (Marcato)
Paganini Caprice in E flat Op.1 No.23 (Posato)
Paganini Caprice in A minor Op.1 No.24 (Quasi Presto)
Paganini Duo merveille Op.6 _Duet for One_ (Adagio Allegro molto)
Paganini Caprice d_adieu Op.68 (Allegro moderato)
Rachel Barton Pine Introduction, Theme and Variations on God Defend New Zealand

Rachel Barton Pine :

Bel Canto Paganini: 24 Caprices


Pine Holds Honors for the Paganini Caprices at the
Szigeti International Violin Competition and the Paganini International Violin Competition

In a Nod to Paganini's Showmanship and Sinister Reputation
Album Release Coincides with the Anniversary of Paganini's May 27 Death

On May 19th, Rachel Barton Pine releases Bel Canto Paganini: 24 Caprices and other Works for Solo Violin, a musical tightrope of works that samples virtually all of the most challenging techniques possible on the violin.  Pine's 35th album will mark her third release on Avie records and make her the first American-born female violinist to record this repertoire. In tribute to Paganini's legendary cultivation of his devilish reputation, the album will be released in stores in May, the same month as his death, and is available for pre-order now. 

Bel Canto Paganini: 24 Caprices and Other Works for Solo Violin includes all 24 Caprices, as well as Paganini's Introduction and Variations on ‘Nel cor più non mi sento from Paisiello's La molinara; Duet for One, and Caprice d'adieu. Pine marks the profound influence Paganini's compositions have had on her by concluding the album with her own Introduction, Theme and Variations on ‘God Defend New Zealand, inspired by Paganini's legacy of creating virtuosic themes and variations.

Pine won honors for her interpretation of the Paganini Caprices at the Szigeti International Violin Competition (Budapest, 1992) and the Paganini International Violin Competition (Genoa, 1993). 

She regularly performs single-evening performances of all 24 Paganini Caprices worldwide, including appearances at the National Gallery of Art and Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. and at the Ravinia Festival.

Today, Paganini is remembered primarily for his exceptional virtuosity and his charismatic stage persona.  While the Caprices are generally viewed as a pyrotechnical tour-de-force, it is Paganini's inherent musicality that has always been the foundation of Pine's relationship with his music.  

Pine's interpretation illustrates how Paganini was a product of the bel canto (‘beautiful singing') era in Italy, where the human voice was the most revered instrument and great singers were worshipped. Great bel canto singers were renowned for an agile technique with the capacity for incredible virtuosity, an impeccable legato, graceful phrasing through mastery of breath control, and the ability to execute fast, accurate passagework. She spent time with singing coaches who specialize in bel canto.  Their insights into phrasing and sound significantly informed her interpretations.

Pine recorded the album with the Joseph Guarneri del Gesú (Cremona 1742), known as the "ex-Bazzini, ex-Soldat" on generous lifetime loan to her from her patron.  The instrument was made by the same maker and in the same year as Paganini's famed "Il Cannone."  

Pine spent numerous hours studying Paganini's manuscript and uses most of his original bowings and articulation markings in her performances.  "I've found that these bowings, occasionally counter-intuitive and extra difficult, have a profound musical purpose that is audible to listeners," she says. Pine found using an early Tourte, the same type of transitional bow as Paganini, made an incredible difference in executing many of Paganini's bowing techniques; it helped her capture an early-Romantic lightness of touch, a clarity and sweetness of tone which is quite different from the more muscular sound of the later Romantic era with which one often hears Paganini's music played.

Paganini's 24 Caprices are each virtuosic études designed to hone and showcase individual skills on the violin. Each Caprice focuses on certain special skills and characters, requiring its own, very distinct interpretation.  When performed consecutively, they offer an extraordinary exploration of the violin's personality, tone colors and expressive range.

Pine wanted to honor Paganini's structural intentions by performing all of his repeats, making the 24 Caprices too long to fit on a single full-length album. Thus, she had the opportunity to add a few more pieces to the repertoire for a two CD set. 

Paganini's Introduction and Variations on ‘Nel cor più non mi sento' from Paisiello's La molinara features a few effects that he did not include in his 24 Caprices, including harmonics, double-stop harmonics, and bowing while simultaneously executing left-hand pizzicato. In her album note Pine recalls, "The lyrics in the original aria describe love using such words as ‘tease', ‘bite', ‘pinch', ‘torment' and ‘despair', all of which seem very appropriate to this infamously difficult piece."  

The two-movement Duet for One, originally titled ‘Sonata for Solo Violin,' is intended to sound as though there are two distinct players, a violinist and a guitarist. 

Pine finds Caprice d'adieu to be charming, elegant and catchy, although she notes it is neither as musically substantive nor as technically challenging as his earlier caprices.

About Paganini - With a tall, gaunt frame, and ability to fuel newspaper reports worldwide, Paganini is often viewed as the world's first rock star. Paganini revolutionized violin playing and elevated the violinist to levels of superstardom previously only achieved by singers. Among other things, he made extensive use of the entire range of the violin, from its lowest notes to its highest, often moving rapidly up and down through the range.  He extended the use of techniques - for example left-hand pizzicato (plucking with the hand that fingers the strings), harmonics (whistle tones), and playing entire melodies and pieces on a single string - to new levels.  Paganini also took advantage of the ability of the violin to play multiple notes at the same time and incorporated rapidly moving chords and seemingly impossible combinations of notes into his music.

Paganini's legacy remains that of a showman as well as a great violinist.  Newspapers published eyewitness accounts of audience members who claimed to have seen a witch standing behind him while he was playing, bowing his bow and fingering his fingers.  He understood that his devilish reputation helped sell tickets, so he didn't always protest these accusations.  He cultivated his image, dressing all in black and his long dark hair complimented his tall, gaunt frame.  Paganini's love life and gambling woes would easily fill the pages of modern day gossip magazines. 

It is not surprising that people associated Paganini's playing with supernatural forces. The widly held belief that he sold his soul in exchange for his amazing ability lasted throughout his life.   So much so, that upon his death, the Church denied him a Catholic burial. It took four years and an appeal to the Pope before the Church let his body finally  be buried in 1876.