Ning Feng – Paganini 24 Caprices + 1 (2021) [FLAC 24bit/192kHz]

Ning Feng – Paganini 24 Caprices + 1 (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/192 kHz | Time – 01:19:18 minutes | 2,65 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Bookelt, Front Cover | © Channel Classics Records

Paganini’s success as a violin virtuoso was naturally only partly based on the fantastical, mysterious and demonic atmosphere that surrounded him. What his professional admirers captivated most of all was his unparalleled playing technique. The best impression of his musical and technical accomplishment can be gained from his most talkedabout work, the 24 Caprices opus 1 (1817), which were modelled on the similarly named pieces by Pietro Locatelli (1733). To this day the 24 Caprices are still considered the bible of violin technique. Ning Feng, First Prize winner at the 2006 International Violin Competition Premio Paganini, gives us a fresh take on his 2017 Samuel Zygmuntowicz violin, and concludes the program with the remarkable Caprice d’Adieu.

On one hand, it’s a testament to the modern tuition of violin technique that Paganini’s 24 Caprices are widely played. In his time, they were outlandish enough to inspire various demonic legends recounted in the booklet of this Channel Classics release, including the delightful tale that Paganini strangled his wife and used her intestines to make one of his violin strings, the one that produced the sweetest tone. On the other hand, there are still differences among the available performances. They are not exercises producing a monolithic group. The more arcane details of the caprices may emerge with greater or lesser clarity, and the expressive dimension of the caprices may vary. Violinist Ning Feng, a Paganini specialist who has been at it for some years now, has every detail in place. It would be irrational to try to list every one but listen to the Caprice No. 3 in E minor and its delicately weighted little octave trills. Feng has sometimes been charged with mechanical playing, but it’s not really true. Balancing the fantastically difficult elements in these pieces requires musicality, which Feng provides. However, he could deliver more warmth and charisma in the purely melodic passages, such as the aria-like amoroso opening of the Caprice No. 21 in A major; these were an important part of Paganini’s appeal, and it’s impossible to believe he didn’t ham them up a bit. Still, for violinists especially, there is much to learn here. Channel Classics deploys various high-tech devices in the engineering, but none of it can make up for the fact that the church ambiance robs the music of intimacy and bears little resemblance to the places where it was played by Paganini.


01. Ning Feng – No. 1 in E Major: Andante
02. Ning Feng – No. 2 in B Minor: Moderato
03. Ning Feng – No. 3 in E Minor: Sostenuto – Presto – Sostenuto
04. Ning Feng – No. 4 in C Minor: Maestoso
05. Ning Feng – No. 5 in A Minor: Agitato
06. Ning Feng – No. 6 in G Minor: Agitato
07. Ning Feng – No. 7 in A Minor: Posato
08. Ning Feng – No. 8 in E-Flat Major: Maestoso
09. Ning Feng – No. 9 in E Major: Allegretto
10. Ning Feng – No. 10 in G Minor: Vivace
11. Ning Feng – No. 11 in C Major: Andante – Presto – Andante
12. Ning Feng – No. 12 in A-Flat Major: Allegro
13. Ning Feng – No. 13 in B-Flat Major: Allegro
14. Ning Feng – No. 14 in E-Flat Major: Moderato
15. Ning Feng – No. 15 in E Minor: Posato
16. Ning Feng – No. 16 in G Minor: Presto
17. Ning Feng – No. 17 in E-Flat Major: Sostenuto – Andante
18. Ning Feng – No. 18 in C Major: Corrente – Allegro
19. Ning Feng – No. 19 in E-Flat Major: Lento – Allegro assai
20. Ning Feng – No. 20 in D Major: Allegretto
21. Ning Feng – No. 21 in A Major: Amoroso – Presto
22. Ning Feng – No. 22 in F major: Marcato
23. Ning Feng – No. 23 in E-Flat Major: Posato – Minore – Posato
24. Ning Feng – No. 24 in A Minor: Tema quasi presto – Variazioni – Finale
25. Ning Feng – Caprice d’Adieu in E Major: Allegro moderato