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Virtuosismo: Paganini & Vieuxtemps

Paganini & Vieuxtemps

Ning Feng

Niccolò Paganini, Henri Vieuxtemps

SKU: 40719

Year of release: 2019

Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major Opus 6 38:04
1. I. Allegro maestoso – Tempo giusto Niccolò Paganini 22:58
2. II. Adagio Niccolò Paganini 05:24
3. III. Rondo: Allegro spirituoso – Un poco più presto Niccolò Paganini 09:41
Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Minor Opus 31 30:15
4. I. Andante – Moderato – Cadenza Henri Vieuxtemps 09:58
5. II. Adagio religioso Henri Vieuxtemps 06:57
6. III. Scherzo: Vivace – Trio: Meno mosso Tempo I Henri Vieuxtemps 05:02
7. IV. Finale marziale: Andante – Allegro Henri Vieuxtemps 08:17
Total time: 68:19

About this album

Ning Feng, 1st Prize Winner of the Paganini Competition 2006, brings you Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 4 on his Stradivari ‘MacMillan’, 1721. ‘Virtuosismo’ is his second recording with OSPA – Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias under the baton of conductor Rossen Milanov. The previous album ‘Apasionado‘ received excellent reviews, Gramophone: “(…) a dazzling left hand and a firm, rich tone which one cannot help but admire (…)”. 

Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1
Paganini composed all his pieces for violin and orchestra for his own use, keeping them secretly stowed away. Consequently, most were published only after his death, and some not until recent decades. The first of his six violin concertos is a virtuosic tour de force, demonstrating not only his incredible technical command but also his great talent for melody and drama. It breathes the spirit of Rossini, whose operas were enormously popular at the time. Originally composed in the key of E flat major, Paganini tuned his violin a semitone up so that he could play in D major, as it were, and thus execute complicated double stops that are impossible in E flat while producing a brighter sound from his instrument. It was partly for this reason that contemporaries said the concerto was ‘unplayable’. Today the work is always performed in D major. 

Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto No. 4
The next piece was written by the son of a weaver, 
amateur violinist and violin maker from Belgian Verviers named Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1882). A child prodigy, he enjoyed an outstanding career as a violinist from the age of six, studying in Vienna and Paris (with Charles de Bériot) and touring Europe, Russia and the USA. From 1871 he was an influential teacher at the Brussels conservatory, where his pupils included Eugène Ysaÿe. But within two years, in 1873, a stroke caused lameness in his right arm, and Vieuxtemps was forced to withdraw from teaching. He spent his final years composing in a sanatorium in Algeria, where his daughter had settled with her husband. Vieuxtemps was greatly admired by contempories such as Berlioz and Paganini, whom he met in London. When Robert Schumann heard him in Leipzig in 1834, he described the fourteen-year-old’s playing as magical and compared him with Paganini. That was during a tour of Germany and Austria, when Vieuxtemps was accompanied by his father. After playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in Vienna, he decided to stay there for some time to study composition with Simon Sechter, under whom Anton Bruckner was later to study counterpoint. After his London debut in 1834, Vieuxtemps pursued his composition studies with Anton Reicha in Paris, the fruits of which are particularly evident in his First Violin Concerto, dating from 1836 (and later published as no. 2). The Fourth Violin Concerto in D minor opus 31, on this recording, was Vieuxtemps’ own favourite concerto. He composed it when employed as a court violinist in Saint Petersburg (1846-1851).

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Opus Klassiek

(…) Het spel van Ning Feng roept herinneringen op aan dat van Heifetz, met een snel vibrato, een slanke toon en een griezelig zuivere intonatie. Ning Feng probeert op geen enkele wijze zijn grote voorganger te imiteren, en hoeft zich in de vergelijking nergens zorgen over te maken. Voor moderne oren geeft de superieure opnamekwaliteit (en een versie zonder coupures) hem bovendien een voorsprong op de oude meester.

De Gelderlander

De violist Ning Feng (1982) staat garant voor vuurwerk op de viool. Hij weet echter ook de lyriek op een onnavolgbare wijze glans te geven. (...) Zijn inlevingsvermogen en soevereine techniek staan garant voor magische momenten. (...) Wat zou het mooi zijn wanneer Ning Feng zich in de toekomst met zijn Spaanse orkestvrienden eens zou werpen op de overige zes concerten van Vieuxtemps. (...)

Diapason 4D

(...) Une efficacité expressive étonnante (...)

Presto Classical

The Chinese violinist’s distinctive, honey-sweet timbre suits these two contrasting showcases by virtuoso violinist-composers to perfection: Feng wears their often fearsome technical demands disarmingly lightly, and is fully alive to the operatic qualities of the Paganini in particular, phrasing bel canto melodies and filigree passagework like a nineteenth-century diva at the top of her game.


(...) he executes all difficulties without apparently breaking sweat, pace the two garbled passages of descending semiquaver triplets in the finale. (…) Feng produces playing of real poetry, with a firm, burnished tone. The duet with the horns in the first movement is nicely done. Even better is the duet with the harp in the second movement


(…) Wie in de discografische historie van deze werken duikt stuit onvermijdelijk op Jascha Heifetz, die onsterfelijk werd met juist deze werken. Ning Feng hoeft zich nergens zorgen over te maken. Hij probeert op geen enkele wijze zijn grote voorganger te imiteren, integendeel zelfs, en de superieure opnamekwaliteit geeft Ning Feng een voorsprong op de oude meester.

Technical Specifications

SpeakersGrimm LS1
Mastering EquimentPyramix
Mastering EngineerJared Sacks
EditingJared Sacks
CablesVan den Hul (3T)
Mixing ConsoleRens Heijnis, custom design
MicrophonesBruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps
Recording NotesSpecial thanks to Mr. Chong Long for his support
Recording FormatDSD 256
Analog To Digital ConverterHorus / Merging Technologies
Recording DateJune 2017
Recording LocationAuditorio Palacio de Congresos Príncipe Felipe, Oviedo, Spain
Recording EngineerJared Sacks, Assistant Recording Engineer: Tom Caulfield