Amiram Ganz / Maria Isabel Siewers

Paganini Sonatas

Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917211825
Catnr: CC 72118
Release date: 01 January 2008
1 CD
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72118
Release date
01 January 2008

About the album

On this album violinist Amiram Ganz and guitarist Maria Isabel Siewers play sonatas by Paganini.

Centone di Sonate - Sonata I
Paganini launched his set of 18 "medleys of sonatas," as the group is sometimes translated, with a typically charming three-movement duo for violin and guitar that really has nothing to do with sonata form; this is merely a series of entertaining salon pieces.
The first movement is a short but dramatic Introduction marked Larghetto; it has an overriding feeling of agitation. The violin plays jagged gestures over a swirling guitar accompaniment. Very soon this gives way to the Allegro maestoso, marked "in march tempo." It has the snap almost of a jig, but the minor key gives it an unusual character. At the center of the movement is a highly lyrical section, typical of Paganini's cantabile writing, before the march resumes. The final movement carries the odd designation -- but not unique in this collection -- of Rondoncino. It's an easygoing allegro whose recurring refrain is a melody full of little turns. The succeeding sections involve some decisive attacks, quick writing, and an extended pizzicato passage, but nothing nearly as difficult as what Paganini concocted for concert use. Throughout, the guitar takes a secondary but by no means negligible role.

Grande Sonata (for guitar with violin accompaniment)
While most of the works that Niccolò Paganini wrote for violin and guitar (including the 30 sonatas published during his lifetime as Op. 2, Op. 3, and the Centone di sonate) are brief, charming compositions in just two or perhaps three short movements, he did compose a pair of bulkier, more imposing vehicles for that instrumental duo. The Grand Sonata for guitar and violin in A major, MS 3 (posthumously printed as Op. 35) that Paganini penned around 1804 is one of those two weighty pieces (the Sonata Concertata, MS 2 is the other), and it pays to note that Paganini quite carefully and explicitly described these two works as being for "guitar and violin" rather than for "violin and guitar," as the rest of his sundry violin/guitar sonatas are marked (similarly, Beethoven and Brahms actually considered their substantial violin/piano sonatas to be works for "piano and violin"). Far from being a subordinate accompanist, the guitarist in the Grand Sonata is raised even past an equal level with the violin. To a large extent it is the sound of plucked strings and not bowed ones that drives and dominates the piece.
The Grand Sonata is in three movements (Allegro risoluto; Romance, Largo amorosamente; and Andantino variato) and fills about a quarter of an hour. Allegro risoluto is a real sonata-allegro opening movement, with two carefully balanced themes, a development, and a recapitulation, all in the positions one would anticipate. Paganini moves to the parallel minor for the following Romance; the traditional tables are truly turned on the violinist here, as he/she is asked to accompany the guitarist's sumptuously melancholic tune by plucking the strings of the violin! Although the movement is a slow one, the guitarist gets plenty of chances to provide impressive embellishments and indulge in some brief cadenzas. The scherzando third movement is intentionally cute; the light chromaticism at the start of the guitarist's melody and the slowly bouncing pizzicati of the violin are really quite disarming, and the subsequent variation-making is as playful as variation-making gets.

Sonata Concertata
Listening to Paganini's lovely Sonata concertata, it is hard to believe it is by the same composer who is responsible for the dazzlingly brilliant 24 Caprices and the dramatic Violin Concerto No. 2. With the opening Allegro spiritoso, which serves as the first movement of this loosely structured sonata, the work hearkens to the Classical style of Mozart or Haydn, where the balance between instruments leads to a unified musical expression, glorious but simple. Indeed, this entire piece may be described as dialogic, since a lilting call-and-response theme between the guitar and violin provides the structural basis. The second movement, Adagio, contains some simple but rewarding interplay between the two instruments; at certain moments, the guitar achieves an almost improvisatory freedom of expression, dragging the more relaxed violin along with it. This paves the way for the truly danceable final movement, Rondo, in which the violin takes on a more brilliant mode of expression than before. In sum, the work represents Paganini's most intimate, relaxed, and almost playful compositional mode.

Sonates voor viool en gitaar van de virtuoze componist Paganini
Dit album bevat sonates van Paganini, uigevoerd door violist Amiram Ganz en gitariste Maria Isabel Siewers. Het album bevat 6 van de 18 sonates die samen de set Centone di Sonate vormen. Het charmante 1e deel voor viool en gitaar heeft echter niets te maken met de sonatevorm. Het is een reeks van vermakelijke salonstukken.

De Grande Sonata is een van Paganini’s grotere, meer imposante werken voor gitaar en viool. Het is gecomponeerd rond 1804. De gitaarpartij in dit werk is niet slechts begeleidend, maar is zelfs belangrijker dan de vioolpartij. De klank van getokkelde snaren beheerst de sonate.

Het is moeilijk te geloven dat de Sonata Concertata is geschreven door de componist die verantwoordelijk is voor de briljante Caprices en het dramatische Tweede Vioolconcert. Deze Sonate is Paganini’s meest intieme, ontspannen en haast speelse compositie. Het werk kan het best beschreven worden als dialogisch. De basis van de structuur wordt namelijk gevormd door een vraag-en-antwoordthema tussen de twee instrumenten.


Amiram Ganz

Violinist Amiram Ganz was born in Montevideo. He began to study violin in Uruguay with Israel Chorberg, the Leopold Auer-pupil Ilya Fidlon, and Jorge Risi. At the age of eleven he won the Jeunesses Musicales Contest and then continued his studies with Richard Burgin in the U.S.A. and Alberto Lysy at the International Academy of Chamber Music in Rome. Studying on a scholarship at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory between 1974 and 1979 he met Victor Pikaisen, who became his teacher. As finalist and award winner of several international competitions (Long-Thibaud/Paris, ARD/Munich, etc.), he became first concert master of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg in 1980. From 1987 until the foundation of the Altenberg Trio he was the violinist of the Shostakovitch Trio, appearing at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Tchaikovsky Conservatory Moscow, etc. In 1994 he became a founding member of the Altenberg Trio of Vienna with pianist Claus-Christian Schuster and cellist Martin Hornstein, who was succeeded in 2004 by Alexander Gebert. With the Altenberg Trio Ganz performes in Europe and North America.

As a soloist he has collaborated with conductors Alain Lombard, Günter Kehr, Theodor Guschlbauer, Marc Soustrot, James Judd, Hiroyuki Iwaki, Nicolas Pasquet und others. He teaches violin and chamber music in Vienna Conservatory (Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität.

Amiram Ganz plays a violin built in Saluzzo in 1686 by Goffredo Cappa (1644-1717); it was made available to the trio by an anonymous patron.

Maria Isabel Siewers

Acclaimed for her extraordinary lyricism, refined artistic temperament and outstanding technique, Maria Isabel Siewers has performed in many of the greatest halls, including the Wigmore Hall (London), Konzerthaus (Vienna), Martinu Hall (Prague), Carnegie Hall (New York) and the Théatre des Champs Elysées (Paris), and has played in many important music festivals. She has regularly toured, taught and adjudicated in international competitions throughout Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. She has occupied several teaching posts in Argentina and, since 1989, she has been head of a guitar department in the Arts University Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
She has appeared as soloist with, amongst others, the Argentine National Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Virtuosi, the Radio/TV Orchestra of Zagreb, the Bohemian Chamber Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Cuba, the Cracow Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestras of Mayo and Morón (Argentina).
As a chamber musician Ms Siewers shows remarkable versatility and has enormous experience. She performs regularly with violinists Amiram Ganz, Rafael Gintoli (“Duo de Buenos Aires”) and Dorothea Sessler, and with the Stamič Quartet (Prague) , Martinu Quartet (Prague) and “Divertimento Innsbruck”. Her repertoire in this field ranges from Giuliani or Paganini to Kurtag, Takemitsu, Guastavino, Piazzolla, and premières of new works.
Ms Siewers' recordings reflect her special interest in and love for 20th-century masterpieces for the guitar, also for the rich and enchanting Latin American repertory (also cross-over) and for chamber music with guitar, a field in which she has considerable experience. Her recordings have received many awards, including “Critic’s choice” (Gramophone) and “Best record of the year” (Acoustic Guitar).
In seeking to expand the repertory of the guitar she has commissioned new works and has premièred numerous solo and chamber works and concertos. She premièred the Concierto de Estio, written for her by the Prague-based composer Sylvie Bodorova with the Bohemian Chamber Orchestra conducted by Leos Swarowsky in 2000 . Other eminent composers have dedicated works to her: José Luis Campana, Jorge Cardoso, John Duarte, Helmut Jasbar, Gustavo Kantor, Máximo Diego Pujol, Larry Traiger, Marios Elias, and Sergio Parotti.
Maria Isabel Siewers studied in her native Argentina with Maria Luisa Anido and at the Manuel de Falla Conservatory, finally receiving a Gold Medal. A scholarship from the Spanish government enabled her to participate in masterclasses with Andrés Segovia in Santiago de Compostela, and another from the Italian government supported her attendance at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, where she studied with Oscar Ghiglia, Ruggero Chiesa and Alain Meunier, and was awarded the “Diploma de Merito”. Later she studied with Abel Carlevaro and Nikolas Harnoncourt.
Despite her busy international career Ms Siewers retains a strong interest in the musical life of her native Argentina, where she founded the “Seminario de guitarra Musicampus” in 1987 and has conducted a music series for young people on National Radio.



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