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Andrej Kurti — “24 Paganini Caprices” (Blue Griffin Recording, 2021)

Abstract:

In the pursuit of musical excellence, the recording and live performance of Niccolò Paganini’s Twenty-Four Caprices for Solo Violin, Op.1, represent a personal Everest for me. This endeavor demanded not only technical prowess but also a profound understanding of the intricate nuances within each caprice. The resulting album, titled “24 Paganini Caprices,” is a testament to my dedication to the craft and the invaluable support of Blue Griffin Recording, a classical label based in Lansing, Michigan. This project places me among the elite group of violinists who have successfully tackled the monumental challenge of performing all twenty-four caprices in a single concert or recording.

Building on the foundation of my prior musical conquests, particularly the recording of Eugène Ysaÿe’s Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op.27, in 2011, the decision to undertake such challenging works stems from my belief that embracing musical challenges refines technical skills and shapes one’s character. The journey to conquer Paganini’s Caprices began four years ago, coinciding with a momentous personal milestone—my marriage and the birth of our daughter. The dedication required for this project was immense, particularly as the recording process allowed for no room for multiple takes, emphasizing the raw and unfiltered nature of live performances.

Playing Ysaÿe’s Sonatas and Paganini’s Caprices back to back illuminated the unique challenges each set presented. While the Sonatas demanded two years of preparation, Paganini’s virtuosic compositions required an intensive summer of learning. As I look ahead, the prospect of undertaking another musical peak—the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin—is both exciting and daunting. This continuous pursuit of artistic summits reflects my enduring commitment to musical excellence.

Beyond personal satisfaction, my musical endeavors have a positive impact on my role as an educator. By witnessing my dedication and passion, my students are inspired to embrace challenges and strive for excellence. This contagious atmosphere of growth and artistic exploration is a testament to the enduring allure of Paganini’s masterpieces. As I contemplate the future, the potential nationwide tour in America this fall and a prospective performance at Carnegie Hall stand as milestones that underscore the universal language of music, connecting audiences on a profound level beyond geographical and cultural boundaries.

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Publication date:

ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music

I am delighted to share with you the culmination of my latest musical endeavor, the recording and live performance of Niccolò Paganini’s Twenty-Four Caprices for Solo Violin, Op.1. This project has been a personal Everest, a challenging pursuit that demanded not only technical prowess but also a deep understanding of the intricate nuances within each caprice. The resulting album, titled “24 Paganini Caprices,” is a testament to my dedication to the craft and the invaluable support of Blue Griffin Recording, a classical label based in Lansing, Michigan.

Undoubtedly, Paganini’s Caprices represent one of the Everest-like challenges in the world of violin performance. Few violinists dare to undertake the monumental task of playing all twenty-four caprices in a single concert or recording them for posterity. In fact, throughout history, only a handful—possibly less than a couple of dozen—have accomplished this feat. I am honored to join this elite group and share my rendition of these masterpieces with the world.

The journey to conquer Paganini’s Caprices is not my first ascent of a musical Everest. My previous conquest was Eugène Ysaÿe’s Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op.27, a repertoire that also formed the basis of my doctoral dissertation. These sonatas, known for their complexity and near-impossibility, were recorded back in 2011, marking the beginning of my collaboration with Blue Griffin Recording. The decision to tackle such challenging works stems from my belief that embracing musical challenges not only refines technical skills but also shapes one’s character.

Embarking on the Paganini project four years ago coincided with a momentous personal milestone—my marriage and the subsequent arrival of our daughter. The dedication required to tackle these caprices was immense, particularly as the recording process leaves no room for multiple takes. Live performances, on the other hand, offer a raw and unfiltered experience, laying bare the true essence of the musician’s art. My “Road to Carnegie” tour, where I played Ysaÿe’s Sonatas in 70-80 cycles across America, culminated in my solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall. This experience provided valuable insights and a taste of what to expect in tackling Paganini’s Caprices.

Playing Ysaÿe’s Sonatas and Paganini’s Caprices back to back illuminated the unique challenges each set presented. While the Sonatas demanded two years of preparation, Paganini’s virtuosic compositions required an intensive summer of learning. Locking myself away, I immersed myself in the intricacies of each caprice, emerging both exhausted and elated. The process, though demanding, was a testament to my belief that challenges breed improvement.

Looking ahead, I see another musical peak on the horizon—the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. Though a date for this endeavor is yet to be set, the anticipation of completing this trilogy of musical Everests is both exciting and daunting.

In addition to the recording, I had the privilege of performing Paganini’s Caprices at Northwestern State University shortly after the recording session. The live performance, though satisfying, is a perpetual journey of refinement. The beauty of live music lies in its ever-changing nature—each performance is unique, with room for both thrill and vulnerability.

As I contemplate the future, the prospect of taking Paganini’s Caprices on a nationwide tour in America this fall is on the horizon. The universal language of music allows me to connect with audiences on a profound level, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries. The potential performance at Carnegie Hall, if successful, will be a testament to the enduring allure of Paganini’s masterpieces.

Beyond personal satisfaction, my musical endeavors have a positive impact on my role as an educator. My students witness firsthand the dedication and passion I bring to my craft, inspiring them to embrace challenges and strive for excellence. Their enthusiasm and trust in my guidance create a contagious atmosphere of growth and artistic exploration.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the recording and live performance of Paganini’s Twenty-Four Caprices have been a transformative journey—a musical odyssey that has tested my limits and enriched my understanding of the violinist’s craft. As I look forward to future musical peaks, I am grateful for the support of Blue Griffin Recording, the inspiration drawn from past challenges, and the joy of sharing my passion with both students and audiences alike. The pursuit of musical excellence is a lifelong commitment, and each Everest conquered only fuels the desire for new artistic summits.

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