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Step aside Paganini, here comes Bazzini. Antonio Bazzini, who was born in 1818, was about 21 years old when the great Paganini died. Paganini had met and heard Bazzini play just 4 years prior, and encouraged him to become a virtuoso violinist. He took that advice and toured and travelled throughout the major European centres, all the while studying music, playing with masters of the day, absorbing all the techniques, composing, teaching, etc..

Most of his compositions were written to display technical prowess and agility, a great example being "La Ronde des Lutins, Op.25" (The Dance of the Goblins). The type of piece that would make any student violinist shake in their boots at the suggestion of having to play it in public to pass final exams. Extremely hard to play and put across as an entertaining pleasure for the listener. Character pieces, like the ones gathered on this disc, remain his most popular works. Some demand an astonishing command of the instrument, like the aforementioned Lutins, while some are very tender and beautiful, "Berceuse" and "Le Dťpart" being two good examples of music written by someone who knew the emotional capabilities of the instrument

This is 20 year old ChloŽ Hanslip's second recording for Naxos. The first was an excellent performance of the John Adams Violin Concerto, which hit number 2 on the U.K. charts upon release. Prior to that she had released a couple of discs for Warner Classics for which she was given awards and accolades from the press and listening public. You will notice that her playing, even when flying up and down the strings at devilish speeds like in the "Ronde des Lutins", is a delight to listen to from start to finish, always full of playfulness when called for, and deep melancholy when needed. You can tell by the way she plays, that she understands that if you get the music right, especially the spirit of the music, then naturally the technique will follow and reinforce, even underscore the music's intent

This September 2008 release by Naxos includes very informative notes on both ChloŽ Hanslip and Caspar Frantz. It is always refreshing to know not only what you are listening to, but who you are listening to.

Jean-Yves Duperron