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Josef Spacek Records Violin Music by Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst for Naxos

May 22, 2010

Between 17–19 March 2010 in Wyastone Concert Hall, Violinist Josef Spacek recorded violin works by Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst for release on Naxos 8.572575. The producer was Michael Ponder.

Josef Spacek notes: ‘My recording contract with Naxos was part of the 1st prize which I received at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand. I thought for a long time about the repertoire that I would record. I had to find something that had not yet been recorded on Naxos before and also something that would draw some attention. I came up with the idea of recording violin works by Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst. H.W. Ernst was a violin virtuoso, violist and a composer and was regarded as one of Paganini’s biggest competitors. Ernst has never reached the fame of Paganini, but is fairly well known among violinists for his incredibly difficult compositions, such as the famous Erlking and the Last Rose of Summer which are included in this CD.

‘Interestingly enough, Ernst was born in Brno, which is now the capital of Moravia region in the Czech Republic. I happened to live there for the first 5 years of my life, so the choice of recording Ernst’s works was also personal.

‘I knew that choosing Ernst would be a challenge. In fact, it turned out to be one of the biggest I have ever faced. It not only requires a tremendous amount of technical skill and musical focus, but also physical strength. Without proper preparation, it would be almost impossible to record. I had planned my recording schedule far in advance, so I had time to rest between recording sessions. And when I recorded my last piece, I felt I could not play any longer.

‘The preparation process was arduous, but the recording experience one of the most gratifying of my life. It was especially rewarding to record with Michael Ponder (my Naxos producer) and Gordon Back (my accompanist). Many thanks to Naxos for making this possible.’

Producer Michael Ponder was impressed with Spacek’s interpretations: ‘Wilhelm Ernst’s violin music must be the hardest music written for the violin. It makes Paganini’s music look like a walk in the park. Josef Spacek is like a world champion tennis player on the violin. Only 23 years old, he come from Prague, but spent the last 6 years studying at Curtis and Julliard in the States. His playing of this music will blow you away.’


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