Geachte heer Bach, In de afgelopen decennia heb ik, bij het bestuderen en bewerken van uw muziek, zoveel vragen verzameld dat ik, zou het mij vergund zijn om eens een middagje met u door te brengen, niet zou weten waar te beginnen.
Paganini Plus is the follow-up of the CD Paganini Caprices for Saxophone (2006). This new collection, which I gathered and arranged in the last few years for performances with Hans Eijsackers, consists of pieces in which composers or arrangers have run off with music by Paganini: Paganini plus someone else. Countless arrangements and paraphrases of his work have seen the light in the past two centuries. Romantics such as Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov, but also 20th century composers like Lutosławski, Dallapiccola and Milhaud have lustfully snuggled up to Paganini’s lean figure.
Nicolò Paganini, La Campanella. This showcase for the violin is the closing movement of the second violin concerto. My arrangement of the whole concerto saw its premiere during a tour with the Noord Nederlands Orchestra in 2002. After that, I played La Campanella may times in a shortened version, with orchestra as well as with piano.
Nicolò Paganini, Sonata. This piece may serve as proof of the fact that Paganini, besides being a self made virtuoso, was also a real composer. In its original form it was a Quartet for solo viola accompanied by violin, cello and guitar (Quartetto XV). As he was an outstanding violinist, violist and guitarist, it is not clear which of the parts Paganini had meant for himself. The calm waters of the chamber music, without the self-imposed pressure that he surely felt as a virtuoso, must have had its influence on the depth of this composition. This version has been transposed up a minor third and renamed Sonata.
Grigory Kalinkovitch, Concert-capriccio after Paganini. If there is one theme in Paganini’s output that has been inspirational to composers, it is the opening melody of the 24th Caprice. Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations for piano and orchestra was based on it. Grigory Kalinkovitch’s paraphrase for saxophone and orchestra has clearly been influenced by it. The version for saxophone and piano was made by the composer. Kalinkovitch, born in 1917, was doctor in art history and professor at the Moscow Conservatory.
Paul Bonneau, Caprice en forme de valse. The saxophone repertoire, though vast, is not very rich in great pieces. Bonneau’s Caprice has always been very dear to me (as well as to many other saxophonists). It is clearly a tribute to the great master of the Caprices, Paganini, and as such the first attempt (composed in 1950) to make a saxophone replace a whole orchestra.
Nicolò Paganini, Duo Merveille. A duo for a single player: the violinist needs to accompany himself with pizzicato of the left hand. On saxophone, the trick is to suggest a two-part play between the melody and the accompanying slap tongues.
Robert Schumann, Etude concertante sur une thème de Paganini. A seldom-played little gem in the piano oeuvre. Real Schumann, based on a real Paganini. His sixth Caprice, the basis of this piece, is an intricate tour de force: the melody is played on one string while the accompaniment in tremolo sounds on a second string. Full exploitation of the harmonic beauty is something only a few violinists can accomplish. Schumann keeps the harmonies intact, adding a magnificent and independent bass line.
Karol Szymanowski, Trois Caprices de Paganini. After my extensive study of the Caprices the discovery of Szymanowski’s Trois Caprices came to me as a big surprise: unbelievable how he had managed to create such a new world around Paganini’s originals! While arranging, I learned how cunning Szymanowski had been: by changing a note here and there, and by sometimes shifting the sequential order, he had created space to impose his sometimes impressionist colours on the work.
Sam Coslow, Mr. Paganini. Ella Fitzgerald has always been inspirational for me as the true example of unrestrained cantabile. She sang this song a thousand times in just as many versions. In the arrangement that Hubert-Jan Hubeek made for me you can hear a Charlie Parker quote. In this piece I play a vintage Brilhart mouthpiece, similar to that on which the Paganini of jazz used to play.