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Paganini Caprice 24: Top 5 Performances and Variations

Published on 13 October 2020 at 02:02

It is by far the most popular piece written by Niccolò Paganini: Caprice 24. Because of its amazing versatility, this piece has been converted to many other instruments, including the guitar and piano with an establishment in almost every musical genre. To give you a clear overview of the absolute greatest, here is a list of performances you should absolutely watch.

It is the piece that has gotten so many people into classical music that there probably is no composer that even remotely compares to Niccolò Paganini. Paganini's Caprices modernize the way classical music is seen by breaking the stereotypes when it comes to classical music and the violin. It does that by showing off the techniques that gives outsiders in particular, a wow factor, even when the technical difficulty isn't that high.

 We are talking about left hand pizzicato, parallel octaves, tenths, rapid shifting, difficult string crossings, extremely fast scales, arpeggios and double and triple stops. To cramp al these hundreds of years of innovation into a piece with a duration that barely exceeds five minutes, is something only Paganini is able to succeed in.

1. Alexander Lubyantsev : Etude 6 by Liszt/Paganini

Franz Liszt understandably saw great potential in the 24th Caprice. The style of Liszt and Paganini are very related when you look at the overwhelming use of advanced techniques, the contrasts in dynamics and the virtuosity in the music. It is often said that Liszt is the Paganini of the piano and that Paganini is the Liszt of the violin. This is one of the best pieces to showcase the similarities between the two, which truly makes it a pleasure to listen to.

2. Jascha Heifetz: Caprice 24 by Paganini

This performance really doesn't need any commentary. The piano accompaniment gives the piece a romantic style which suites the image of Heifetz quite well. The octaves seem so effortless with such great use of dynamics. As if this piece isn't already difficult enough, he gives the piece his own twist to the point where he treats it like his own cadenza. It's what we're used to with God's Fiddler and we really can't blame him for that when these are the results. You should definitely give this master a listen if you haven't already.

3. Marcin Patrzalek: Caprice 24 by Paganini

Although there are several famous guitar concertos, these concertos generally don't do justice to the guitar because of the difficulty in the projection and volume when a full orchestra is playing behind you. Making full use of dynamics can become an issue when the quite passages are difficult to be heard and with that, many subtleties and details in the playing get overlooked sometimes.

That's why solo repertoire for the guitar like the 24th Caprice by Paganini deserves so much credit. It truly brings out the best in every instrument which is a huge accomplishment on the part of Paganini.

However, that's only half of the full picture. The performance has a vital role in how a piece gets conveyed to the public. The practice clearly paid off for this young talent and there aren't any bad words to be said about it.

4. Hilary Hahn: Paganiniana by Milstein & Caprice 24 by Paganini

Hilary Hahn has made a very unique name for herself by playing everything perfect. Although she has her own interpretations, she plays the music how it was supposed to be played in a perfect world. This gets really impressive when you look at very challenging pieces like Erlkönig by Ernst or Paganiniana because she simply doesn't cheat with the amount of attention to detail she puts in her playing. Every note is perfectly in tune with such rhythmic accuracy and intensity that it makes her stand out from her colleagues by a mile.

5. Alexander Markov: Caprice 24 by Paganini

The succes of Alexander Markov's career has largely been due to his outstanding performances of the Paganini Caprices. Besides mastering the violin, he really mastered the performing too. The way he plays the violin in such a grandiose, but charming way really makes him a great showman, hence the often made comparison with Paganini himself.


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