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Hello Mr. Paganini - Ning Feng

Hello Mr. Paganini - Ning Feng

Channel of China  CCS SA 80807

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber


Paganini

Ning Feng (violin)
Thomas Hoppe (piano)

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Review by John Broggio - December 1, 2008

What a violinist!

As part of Channel Classics' "Channel of China" series, this must be viewed as a compulsory purchase by all who admire the art of transforming technically dazzling pieces into lyrical works of art. Of the 8 works presented here, almost all are arrangements by one F. Kreisler, one is arranged by G. Kinsky and F. Rothschild leaving 2 "pure" (violin only) Paganini works; the arrangements are all for violin and piano.

Many famous and favourite items of Paganini are included here, in the following order:
"Non piu mesta" from La Cenerentola (Rossini) arr. Kreisler
Caprice No.24 arr. Kreisler
Variations on God Save the King
Cantabile arr. Kinsky and Rothschild
"Nel cor piu non mi sento" from La molinara (Paisiello)
"Le Streghe" from Il noce di Benevento (Sussmayr) arr. Kreisler
"La Campanella" from 3rd movement of Paganini's Violin concerto No.2 arr. Kreisler
"I Palpiti" from Tancredi (Rossini) arr. Kreisler

It is very difficult to single out highlights from this disc but surely one must be the quite frankly jaw-dropping performance given by Ning Feng of the Variations on God Save the King - it really has to be heard to be believed. Nor is Feng's sole claim to accolades his technique; his ample ability to phrase a melody can be heard to great effect in the Cantabile. Feng has clearly formed a good relationship with his accompanist Thomas Hoppe on this disc and Hoppe manages to bring the most out of the fairly meagre piano parts and manages to negotiate every twist and turn that is thrown his way with ease.

The sound is fortunately well up to the house standard that Channel Classics have set themselves, though it is much closer than other recordings in their catalogue yet it should come as no surprise that Feng withstands such scrutiny with astonishing ease. The notes are also well written with some interesting trivia that goes beyond 'Paganini was the devil'; included in them is a highly apposite phrase "It [Paganini's music] is reserved for a small, select group of master violinists" - Feng deservedly belongs in this group and few, if any, other violinists who are represented on SACD also merit such membership so clearly.

A stunning début and one that will hopefully be followed up before too long.

Copyright © 2008 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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