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David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2011

Outside of guitar circles Paganini is only known as the virtuoso violinist who composed horrendously difficult music for the instrument.  But he was also a quite prolific composer for that other stringed instrument, the guitar, including the forty-three pieces that make up Ghiribizzi (Whims). They were composed in 1820 for ‘a little girl in Naples’, and were his ‘doodling’ on little tunes many of them ‘borrowed’ from famous composers of the time. Looked at another way, they are a series of exercises that would have improved her young technique, though she must already have been a very gifted child. They can be made much more challenging by the tempos employed, the much acclaimed young guitarist, Denis Sungho Janssens, playing the quick ones very quickly. The enclosed booklet explains in detail the various techniques the works explore, most pieces lasting for not much more than one minute. He was tempted to expand in the Twentieth to three minutes, where he uses the aria, La ci darem la mano, from Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni. The text explains the progressive difficulty of the pieces, though to the innocent ear, they seem to oscillate in difficulty. It all adds up to a pleasant disc, played with technical excellence, if not always rhythmic perfection, by a gifted performer whose agile fingers bring total clarity to his playing. The sound quality of the UK sessions is another object lesson in the perfect art of guitar recordings.

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