Niccolo Paganini – Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op 6, M.S. 21
Ilya Kaler (violin), Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Gunzenhauser (conductor)
Concerto No1 in D major, written, in fact, in E flat major, but generally transposed in performance to D major, was probably written in 1817, at a time when Paganini was enjoying enormous success in his native Italy, while arousing jealousy and suspicion in even measure from rival musicians. The concerto allows the soloist to demonstrate a high degree of technical proficiency, both in the handling of the bow, with its flying staccato, and in the demands made on the left hand, at the same time it shows a very Italian gift for melodic invention.
Ilya Kaler is a Russian virtuoso, a pupil of Leonid Kogan. He’s a first-rate fiddler and an excellent musician. Paganini’s once fiendish pyrotechnics hold no terrors for him, not even the whistling harmonics, and how nicely he can turn an Italianate lyrical phrase, as in the secondary theme of the first movement of the First Concerto.
Stephen Gunzenhauser launches into the opening movements with plenty of energy and aplomb and is a sympathetic accompanist throughout.