Paganini’s 24 “Caprices”‏

by richibi

having heard one Caprice of Paganini it’s not
much of a stretch to want to hear them all, and 
to my delight and utter astonishment they are
available presently on the Internet in a
presentation so extraordinary it seems 
accorded by the very gods, the violinist, an
unchastened Prometheus this one, Alexander
Markov, delivers unadulterated fire, he is, it is, 
astounding, nothing short of outright Olympian
you’ve already heard him play the 24th, here are
the Capricesare for Paganini what the
“Études”, opus 10, opus 25were for Chopin,
each was exploring the intricacies of his own
particular instrument, which results to date
remain the standard, the Everest to be
conquered, of either by any aspirant
how do you keep your knees from knocking,
first of all, up there, in those headlights, I
would wonder of the performing artist, the
rest being of course, I’m aware, pure but
metaphysical merely physics, moderately
only incomprehensible  
Alexander Markov is fully at home in these
pieces, making them electric but for a picayune
quibble, being of Russian extraction he is not
the Paganini I would want him to be, sensuous
and seductive instead of the more Nordic
commanding and fiery, the Mediterranean
Paganini was famously, after all, a Lothario,
a Casanova, with an especially lubricious,  
apparently, fiddle
Paganini, incidentally, wrote the Caprices 
between 1805 and 1809, smack in the middle
of the Romantic Period, you can hear the altered
audience in the distant concert hall, surely not
the aristocrats who would’ve found this music
presumptuous, impudent, in their privileged
salons, but throngs of the newly franchised –
note the French root in the word “franchised”,
probably stemming from the very French
Revolution – who were looking towards their
bold and liberated future
the music is strictly rhythmic, which is to say,
still Classical, keys don’t change within the
individual pieces, the harmonies are still
sufficiently tonal not to distract, though the
melodies are not simple to follow, the stage
is being set for more abstract stuff, Beethoven,
for instance, writing at the same time, being
much less eccentric, and again maybe less
Mediterranean in his own always nevertheless
beguiling flights of Romanticism  
psst: the performance takes place at the
          in, I believe, 1989, for your info 
          note, incidentally, the white tie and tails,
          an aristocratic, which is to say, atavistic, 
          even then, notion
          we will always, all of us, conspire to 
          seem noble