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Robert Maxham
Fanfare, November 2013

For its combination of devil-may-care virtuosity (both in the composer’s conception and the violinist’s execution), Špaček’s collection of Ernst should appeal at least to violinists. But even musical purists, who honor the reputations of the composers who admired Ernst, may find more than they bargained for in these brilliant pieces with soft centers. Urgently recommended across the board. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Elaine Fine
American Record Guide, November 2013

Spacek’s playing is so tasteful, expressive, and elegant that it is sometimes difficult to remember that the feats he is performing on the violin are probably the most difficult ever devised.

I find his playing spectacular and put him in a class with superb soloists like Augustin Hadelich, Tianwa Yang, and James Ehnes. Anyone who appreciates excellent virtuosic violin playing combined with exquisite musicianship should hear this recording. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

MusicWeb International, July 2013

The young soloist in this recording, Czech Josef Špaček…does Ernst proud with a performance of elevated and sustained technical brilliance, coupled with the application of elegant restraint where the composer requires.

Distinguished Welsh pianist Gordon Back is an ever-dependable foil. Both performers make their debut for Naxos with this recording. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2013

This has to be one of the most remarkable discs of pure violin virtuosity in a catalogue already well-endowed with extraordinary displays of technical brilliance. Moravian-born, Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, followed in the footsteps of Paganini, though his music goes further into the world of the impossible. In the concert hall Ernst amazed audiences as he toured around Europe, never putting down roots until he fell victim to a strange and unidentified illness, at which time he began to concentrate on composition until his untimely death in 1865 at the age of 53. Apart from the lyric Elegie, this new release concentrates on showpieces that including passages where the violin plays the melody, the accompaniment in double-stopping, and a bass line achieved with left-hand pizzicato, all at one and the same time—or so it appears to the ear. Indeed the violin part at times becomes so complex that it was written on two staves with double-stopping in rapidly moving passages, and leaps around the fingerboard that beggar belief. In the short Trio we readily believe that three people must be playing, while the challenges of Le Carnaval de Venise make one smile in amazement. The soloist is the Czech-born, Josef Spacek, the laureate in the 2012 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and now the concert-master of the Czech Philharmonic. © David’s Review Corner

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