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Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, August 2012

Bazzzini is best remembered as the composer of numerous show pieces for violin and piano, the most famous being “La Ronde des lutins” (The Dance of the Goblins). This piece is extremely hard to play and frequently played as a concert encore.

Chloë Hanslip is a terrific violinist. 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 feeling when needed. © 2012 My Classical Notes Read complete review

Jean-Yves Duperron
Classical Music Sentinel, October 2009

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 Départ” being two good examples of music written by someone who knew the emotional capabilities of the instrument.

This is 20 year old Chloë Hanslip’s second recording for Naxos. The first was an excellent performance of the John Adams Violin Concerto [8.559302], 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 Chloë Hanslip and Caspar Frantz. It is always refreshing to know not only what you are listening to, but who you are listening to.

Robert Maxham
Fanfare, May 2009

Itzhak Perlman once remarked jokingly, after playing Bazzini’s Ronde des lutins, that the composer hadn’t ever written anything else because he’d used up all the notes in La ronde. But though not much of Bazzini’s music remains in the active repertoire, violinists still play Calabrese (Menuhin included it in a film, Euroarts 2054618) and, of course, La ronde des lutins. (Works on the violin, including Auer’s multi-volume guide to violin-playing, mention the Allegro de concert.)…Chloë Hanslip, a sort of prodigy in her own right (after hearing the young Bazzini in 1836, Paganini advised him to undertake a tour), plays these generally unfamiliar pieces with secure technical command and gracious tonal warmth…Le carillon d’Arras contains generous dollops of both Romantic sensibility and virtuosic effects, which Hanslip carries off with aplomb; but in the two miniatures, op. 12, Bazzini strikes deeper, with genuinely affecting and tenderly touching songfulness; and Hanslip is even more impressive communicating the more urgent message imbedded in these. The two Études, op. 49, like Wieniawski’s two sets of studies (op. 10 and op. 18) or Vieuxtemps’s book, op. 48—or his better known Six Concert Studies—embed their technical demands in ingratiating character pieces. Bazzini’s first study features running triplets in the manner of a spinning song; the second (which lasts more than six minutes), serves up jaunty double-stops somewhat in the manner of Wieniawski’s op. 18/5, relieved in the middle section by syncopations. In these stylized studies, Hanslip makes musical points as well as technical ones. The Three Pieces in the Form of a Sonata, op. 44 (an Allegro giusto, a Romance, and a Finale Allegro vivace), lasting over 19 minutes, lays claim, collectively, to making the most comprehensive musical statement.

Perhaps Hanslip’s performance of the most famous of its numbers might serve as a sort of litmus test for the entire program, and she does bring a tangy zest—at a breakneck tempo (though without Heifetz’s élan) to La ronde des lutins…So, finding that Hanslip doesn’t turn up the voltage indicator as high as have violinists of an earlier generation in the better known of these miniatures, those general listeners may understandably be tempted to pass up the program. Recommended therefore principally to the curious among them—and again, of course, to all violinists.

Joseph Magil
American Record Guide, March 2009

Hanslip has a clear tone, very accurate intonation, nimble fingers, and a tight, fast vibrato that she can employ on short notes. She knows how to shape a phrase by varying dynamics and adding accents.

Bazzini is best known today for his wacky, tasteless, showy ‘Dance of the Goblins’, which concludes this collection. The rest of his music is rarely performed, and all-Bazzini discs like this one are rare. His music isn’t the greatest, but much of it is pleasant if it is performed as well as it is here; and this is by far the best all-Bazzini recital I have heard, thanks to Hanslip’s taste and immaculate technique…Hanslip plays ‘The Dance of the Goblins’ as well as I’ve ever heard it.

Edith Eisler
Strings Magazine, January 2009

This disc proves that [Antonio Bazzini] was a master of the genre of charming salon pieces popular at the time. The program recorded here aims at utmost variety, featuring both brilliant and effusively romantic character pieces.

Published between 1845 and 1864, these works demonstrate Bazzini’s progress in compositional technique and harmonic inventiveness. All are short, though one set of three is entitled “en forme de sonate” and opens with a substantial sonata-form movement. The slow, lyrical pieces are dreamy, melancholy, delicate, abounding in lovely melodies. The fast ones are whimsical, vigorous, bouncy, and full of dazzling instrumental fireworks.

The performances are beyond praise. The English violinist Chloë Hanslip, who at 20 is already enjoying an international career, possesses a beautiful, pure tone, with an infinite range of nuance and intensity. She handles all the formidable virtuosic demands of this music with ease, flair, elegance, and a genuine expressiveness that never lapses into corny sentimentality. Read complete review

David Milsom
The Strad, November 2008

Chloe Hanslip proves a strong and assertive executant in these varied works, with a wonderfully clear and precise technique and a natural sense of mood and aesthetic…immaculately accompanied by Caspar Frantz…While the balance between the players is very well managed, the microphones appear to be very close, and this creates a rather hard and metallic sound—making the performances sound very exciting, but at the expense of tonal warmth. Despite these reservations, Hanslip’s playing is remarkably assured and, particularly among fans of the virtuosic and ’violinistic; this disc should prove highly enjoyable.

Duncan Druce
Gramophone, November 2008

Does Bazzini need rehabilitating? A resounding yes after this set of delights

Among 19th-century violinist/composers, Antonio Bazzini (1818–97) was probably the most successful in escaping from exclusive specialization in the virtuoso repertoire. His compositions include operas, sacred music, orchestral works and chamber music, so it’s rather sad that he should be remembered today by a single piece, the scintillating Ronde des lutins (“Dance of the Goblins”). Chloë Hanslip demonstrates most persuasively that, even among his violin showpieces, it isn’t a one-off. The items in her recital may make for fairly undemanding listening, the idiom may not be strikingly original, but Bazzini has the knack of integrating post-Paganini virtuoso features into a romantic style that’s sophisticated, subtle and tasteful. The cantabile items are very appealing—the central Romance in the Trois morceaux en forme de sonate could rival the ubiquitous Massenet Méditation were it to become better known—and the Op 49 Etudes are particularly interesting, the first a moto Perpetuo with very original accented dissonances, the second a delightful scherzo with elegant double-stopping and lively cross accents, and an unexpectedly lyrical central section.

Hanslip certainly has the confidence and technique for this repertoire: more importantly, she’s able to engage with each piece, bringing out its expressive character. For the Romance in Op 44, for instance, she produces a soft, sensuous tone, quite different from her sound in the plaintive, ornate Nocturne from Op 41. Caspar Frantz accompanies very stylishly throughout, and Hanslip’s musical personality, graceful and with spontaneous verve, brings everything to life. It’s lovely violin playing!”

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, October 2008

Not only is this a disc of delightful fireworks, but it’s been cannily selected as well. So let’s address the discography before we move on to Hanslip and Frantz’s splendid playing. Up to now if you wanted an all-Bazzini disc your choice was pretty much restricted to the recording made by Luigi Alberto Bianchi with pianist Aldo Orvieto on Dynamic CDS258. In that case you got the Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 55, the two Novelettes, Op. 54, the three Morceaux, Op. 53 and the three Morceaux, Op. 46. So we now have complementary selections of Bazzini’s virtuosic flights of fancy. 

And so to the playing, which is terrifically engaging. Calabrese is an elegant and suave piece, nicely coloured by Hanslip. The Trois morceaux lyriques followed a few years later. The first is a lyrical effusion and played with requisite feeling. The second is a Scherzo and has some Schumannesque and proto-Elgarian moments reminiscent from his later violin morceaux; I wouldn’t be surprised if the young Elgar hadn’t absorbed some of the virtuoso violin repertoire from Bazzini along the way. The last of the three is a restful lullaby. 

Le Carillon d’Arras is, strictly speaking, a piece of virtuoso fluff but when it’s played with such zesty commitment as here one can shelve haughty disdain. The left hand pizzicati ring out and the harmonics are played with precision—and even in the testing double stops intonation remains pure. The two Op.12 Morceaux make a good contrasting pair—the first melancholy and the second light hearted. Most impressive is the evenness of Hanslip’s semiquavers in the moto perpetuo-type study that is the first of Deux grandes etudes Op. 49. Rather more substantial is Trois morceaux en forme de sonate Op. 44 composed in 1864. The long first movement is written in sonata form but it’s the second in which we can better gauge both Bazzini’s ear for lyricism and Hanslip’s highly imaginative response to the music. She varies her tone, plays with real poetry and applies the most subtle of portamenti —not to mention varying her vibrato usage to shade and colour the line. To end we have the only well known item in the programme, and inevitably it’s La Ronde des lutins—which is nearly as fast in this performance as Perlman’s youthful recording exhumed fairly recently—albeit with slightly less fizz but a bit more grazioso (Itzhak Perlman rediscovered - BMG-RCA 82876625172).

I’ve skimmed over Caspar Frantz’s contribution which is unfair; he’s a first class partner and adds significantly to the pleasure and real success of this well recorded recital.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, October 2008

I had the pleasure of meeting the late Yehudi Menuhin around 1960 when he played a concert in Montreal. He gave me moral support in encouraging outstanding young artists making their recording debuts. Fast forward a decade, when I proposed a project to reissue some of his own recordings from the 1930s, to be called "Vintage Menuhin" (Orion ORS 7271), copied from 78 rpm disks that I had in my collection. After making the selections and transferring them to tape, he came over to listen. While Bazzini's "La Ronde des Lutins" was playing, he smiled and said wistfully: "I couldn’t play that now to save my life!" Enter 20 year-old British virtuoso Chloe Hanslip, who—with all due respect to Yehudi's memory—plays rings around this and other violinistic knuckle-breakers. Her virtuosity and musicality are simply breathtaking, and she enjoys split-second support from her partner Caspar Frantz. I nominate this disc for the Grand Prix!

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