Niccolo Paganini was born in Genoa, Italy, Oct 27, 1782, and he died in France on May 27, 1840. He was both an amazing violinist in his time, and also a composer of music for violin, guitar, and orchestra. His astounding ability with the violin was so magnificent as to be literally considered supernatural. This led to all sorts of rumors and stories in his day.
Undoubtedly some of these stories were fabricated, and we will not concern ourselves with these here. He will, however, always be known as the greatest and most revered violinist the world has ever known.
About 200 years later, Hilary Hahn was born on November 27, 1979 in Lexington, Virginia. Her violin playing has already become very well known for its musicality, outstanding technique, and sensitive interpretation.
The Paganini and Spohr concerti both possess dramatic musical qualities, and Hahn demonstrates this to perfection in a masterful performance that I completely admire. Both concerti are spectacular, each in their own way.
The Paganini is always impressive in being a thrilling showpiece – indeed, the orchestra and soloist become an astounding pyrotechnics act, with the violinist as the featured performer. The Spohr Concerto #8, which is a lesser known work, has a somewhat darker style. Ms. Hahn beautifully demonstrates why it deserves to be placed beside the Paganini in this recording.
Explore these sounds for yourself: