Today’s Blog and Podcast is a “crossover” montage, intermingling our Friday series with an ongoing Tuesday Blog share discussed on September 7. As we deploy three CDs worth of Paganini concertos on our podcasting channel, part two of the set focuses on concertos 2 and 5.
As we wrote this past Tuesday, Paganini’s output for the violin has many memorable pieces; most of them intended to display Paganini’s virtuosity and “devilish” ability on the instrument. Surprisingly, his concertos don’t get as much attention in that regard. Some will argue that they are indeed designed to showcase the soloist yet don’t give much attention to the orchestral part of that “duel”. There is, however, a notable twist here…
The third movement of Paganini's Second Concerto owes its nickname "La Campanella" or "La Clochette" to the little bell which Paganini prescribes to presage each recurrence of the rondo theme. The character of the bell is also imitated in the orchestra and in some of the soloist's passages featuring harmonics. The outcome is a very transparent texture, which gains extra charm of gypsy coloration of the rondo theme. This movement has served as the basis of compositions by other composers, such as the Étude S. 140 No. 3 "La campanella" by Liszt, and Johann Strauss I's Walzer à la Paganini Op. 11.
The Violin Concerto No. 5 was composed in 1830. It is in fact the last concerto of Paganini (the concerto #6 was partly written in 1815 and is sometimes referred to as “#0”). This concerto by the most famous of all violin virtuosi can be called a monologue for the violin because only the solo part exists; the orchestral score either was not written down or has not yet been discovered., the concerto can be performed if suitably reconstructed.
In 1958 Vittorio Baglioni entrusted this task to Federico Mompellio on behalf of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, and in September 1959, the concerto received its premier performance. Franco Gulli was the soloist and Luciano Rosada the conductor. The success of this performance induced Guli to present the concerto in many European cities.
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