Nicolò Paganini: Grande Concerto No. 6 & Sei Cantabili e Valtz for Violin and Guitar


  • Artist(s): Paolo Ghidoni, Gabriele Zanetti
  • Composer(s): Niccolò Paganini
  • EAN Code: 7.46160910710
  • Edition: Da Vinci Classics
  • Format: 1 Cd
  • Genre: Chamber
  • Instrumentation: Guitar, Violin
  • Period: Romantic
  • Sound Engineer: Gabriele Zanetti
SKU: C00242 Category:

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Starting in 1827 and continuing for sixty years, violinist Camillo Sivori (1815-1895), journeyed throughout Europe and the Americas, to exceptional acclaim, and conquering for himself the esteem of musicians such as Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Rossini and Verdi. He was famous for his excellent gifts as an interpreter of the classical-romantic musical literature, and for his astonishing virtuosity. Speaking of Sivori, Paganini declared: “He is the only one who can call himself a student of mine”.

They were both born in Genoa, and they shared the same artistic milieu (they had even studied with the same teacher, Giacomo Costa); their relationship continued until 1840, when Paganini, on the deathbed, presented Sivori with one of his violins. However, the best evidence of this relationship is found in the works which the great virtuoso dedicated “al Bravo Ragazzino / Sig.r Camillo Sivori” (“to the Good Boy / Mr Camillo Sivori”), written between October 1822 and May 1824, when Paganini frequently sojourned in Genoa. When he got acquainted with young Sivori, Paganini was favourably impressed; he gave him lessons and sometimes performed with him in private concerts (“accademie”), where Paganini played the guitar part.

Some of these works are currently lost, such as the Concertino for violin and guitar and the six Sonatas for violin with guitar, viola and cello accompaniment. On the contrary, until a few years ago only the last of the twelve Cantabili e Valtz (M.S. 124-129) for violin and guitar was known; however, thanks to the opening of the Sivori Archive by his heirs, the first six became available once more, and are recorded here (the Cantabili nos. 7-11 are still missing).

A Sonata con variazioni for violin, with accompaniment of viola, guitar and cello is also available; it might (or might not) coincide with one of the above-mentioned Sonatas. The title-page of this work is identical to that of the Sei Cantabili e Valtz and bears witness of a performance in terms very similar to theirs: “Performed for the first time in Genoa, in the house of Mr Antonio Sivori on March 15th, 1824 / accompanied by Messrs. Professors Mr Nicolò Paganini [playing the] Guitar / Casella [playing] the Cello and Dellepiane the viola”. In both labels, the year 1824 is superscripted over an earlier “1823”; however, the latter remains more likely, if one considers Paganini’s stays in his native city.

Through these works, the only ones he wrote with a pedagogical purpose, Paganini not only intended to impart a technical instruction to his student, in view of a “full mastery of the instrument”, but also to educate him to the musical art and to beauty, “in order to inform the soul”, as he wrote.

Even though their relationship was discontinuous, Paganini constantly followed Sivori’s extraordinary progress, giving him valuable advice “about playing”, even on the occasion of their last meeting in Nizza, a few days before Paganini’s death, as is reported by Sivori’s brother, Giovanni Battista, who had accompanied him.

The Sei Cantabili e Valtz, which are short duets in two movements, are very important, as they are “lessons” aiming at the technical/instrumental and musical improvement of “Camillino” Sivori. In these pieces, fascinating in spite of their brevity, we recognize Paganini’s style in the small-scale works.

The first Cantabile e Valtz in A major has a simple structure; each of the two movements has two sections. The first, Minuetto (Andante cantabile) is structured into two periods of sixteen bars each (the second is a reprise of the first, at the upper octave). The Valtz (Andantino) cites in full the first part of the Ghiribizzo no. 42 for guitar, whose melody is entrusted to the violin (it is a case of self-borrowing). It is articulated into three parts: the first (A-B with da capo), the second (Trio) in A major, and the third is the reprise in D major.

The first movement of the second Cantabile in D major (Minuetto, Andante un poco sostenuto) is in two sections, each with a repeat. In comparison with the first Cantabile, here the violin has more complex musical figurations. The music is identical with that of the 3° Notturno a quartetto. The Valtz, instead, is made of three parts: the first (A-B with da capo) in D major, with two repeats, the second (Trio) in G major, and the third is the reprise.

The third Cantabile, in A minor, is slightly more extended than the preceding two, if one considers the repeats. The first movement (Andante sostenuto) is divided into two sections, in which the violin is rather intensely involved, and closes with three bars in A major. The Valtz (Andantino), which Paganini would later reuse in the Rondeau of his Fifth Violin Concerto, is in three parts: the first has the indication sul ponticello (first sixteen bars), at first in piano and then in forte; the second has a new figuration, built on five descending notes in forte; the third, in A major, has the function of a coda.

In the fourth Cantabile, in C major, we find several more fingerings in the violin part. The first movement (Andante moderato) is in three sections; the first is repeated, in the second the texture thickens with more complex rhythmical figurations; the third and last is a codetta where the violin ventures itself in the high register. The Valtz (Andantino) has a light and playful tone, and is structured into three sections (A-B with Da Capo). The first is divided into two repeated episodes; the second is a F-major Trio, reminiscent of a Tyrolean dance, and once more divided into two repeated sections; the third is the reprise.

The fifth Cantabile, in G major, further increases the number of the quick figurations, particularly in the first movement. In the Andante sostenuto, made of two repeated sections, quick figurations in 32nd-notes are developed, together with dotted rhythms and trills stirring the musical texture. The Valtz is in the tripartite form (A-B-A), with repeats. The first part is characterized by the constant presence of triplets; the second (Trio), in C major, by quick figurations of 32-nd notes; the third is the reprise.

The first movement (Andante) of the sixth Cantabile, in E major, is in the bipartite form, with repeats. The Valtz (Andantino) follows the tripartite scheme seen above (A-B Da Capo); the first part (8+8 bars) has two repeats, the second is an E-major Trio, the third is the reprise.

It is a well-known fact that, in the present state-of-the-art, it is impossible to precisely establish how many Violin Concertos were composed by Paganini. Among those whose orchestral score is preserved are the first (E-flat major), the second (B-minor, “della Campanella”), the third (E major) and the fourth (D minor). Only the violin part of the fifth, in A minor, has been transmitted, with indications on the interventions of the other instruments; it is currently performed with a reconstructed orchestration (made by Federico Mompellio on the basis of the piano accompaniment by Giusto Dacci and Romeo Franzoni; or in the more recent version by Francesco Fiore, based on the autograph manuscript).

The Grande concerto for violin in E minor (M.S. 75) was rediscovered in 1972 by Edward Neill at the antique dealer’s Hermann Baron in London (along with other, non-autograph, works by Paganini). There are two folders/booklets, the first of which contains the solo violin’s part, with a summary of the orchestral interventions, while the second contains the guitar accompaniment. (It should be remembered, on this topic, that Paganini frequently used the guitar, rather than the piano, when composing). The Grande Concerto was bought by the Cassa di Risparmio di Genova e Imperia and donated to the Civico Istituto di Studi Paganiniani di Genova /of Genoa (which is owned, since 1990, by the City of Genoa). It is normally listed as the “sixth” of the series; however, it should precede the first, if one considers the stylistic features of the solo parts: even though they seem to announce Paganini’s later developments, they are still reminiscent of the Concertos by Viotti, Kreutzer and Rode. In the case of this Concerto, too, there is an orchestration which has been performed and recorded (both in a version by Mompellio and in a more recent one by Fiore); here, for the first time, it is performed in the version with guitar.

The Grande Concerto is articulated into the canonical three movements; even though it is a youthful work, it already contains some of Paganini’s typical features, such as the use of the fourth string, virtuoso gestures (quick arpeggios up to the highest register, passages of thirds etc.), and a warm and mellow singing style.

The first, movement, Risoluto, is structured into three sections (A-B-A1), in a freely interpreted sonata-form (in particular, the development, “B”, is practically missing). The Exposition (“A”) comprises the first thematic area (first theme) with a risoluto (“resolute”) character. In E minor, it is divided into three episodes: the first is made of the principal theme; the second (contrasting with the preceding) is characterized by an increase in the figurations of 16th– and 32th-notes; the third is the modulating bridge. Then there is a second thematic area, characterized by a second motif (dolce), legato and intense, in G major. This section (“A”) is made of episodes with various characters: cantabile and virtuoso sections; a new subject (almost a third theme) in E-flat major; a virtuoso episode leading to a Coda. Once the Coda is over, the development (“B”) begins; it does not follow the canons of the Sonata form, but rather takes the form of a middle section composed of contrasting episodes. The repetition by the violin of a figuration of semiquavers in constant acceleration leads to a cantabile and very expressive element in A minor, which is almost a fourth theme. A livelier section follows, with a sequence of quaver triplets, in the form of arpeggios, bichords, and rapid ascents to the sovracute register. A dramatic coda leads (as in the classical model) to the Reprise (“A1”), which proposes the two principal themes once more: the first in the root key, and the second in the luminous and contrasting key of E major (and this is an exception to the “rule”). Coming back to the key of E minor, some elements which had already been expounded in the development are presented once again; this is the case with the third theme, framed by two virtuoso episodes with sequences of semiquavers, leading to a Coda where the solo’s cadenza was originally found; unfortunately, as is customary with Paganini’s Concertos, it was not written down.

The central Adagio is a lyrical page, developed mostly within the dynamic range of the “piano”. Based on the key of E major, it is articulated into three short sections: the first is an introduction; the second has a Solo uttering a “warm” theme (which seemingly recalls the first movement’s second theme), articulated into two sections (E major and C-sharp minor), later proceeding towards the dominant key (B major). The third part is a Reprise, leading (after a very short episode in E minor, reminiscent of the first movement) to a cadenza, followed by a short Coda.

The concluding Rondò ossia Polonese is jaunty and brilliant; it is constituted by a refrain which reappears five times, interspersed with four stanzas, differing only slightly from each other but well devised. The material for the stanzas repeats some instrumental traits (such as arpeggios, trills, bichords and passages of thirds) which are typical for Paganini, even though they are not deployed in such an extreme fashion as will happen in his later works. The Refrain is then proposed in a more synthetic form, in G major. The second stanza, which is more developed, begins with semiquaver arpeggios by the violin, and exploits some of the Refrain’s initial motifs, even in remote keys (such as E-flat major) and in the form of a development. The Refrain and the third stanza follow; the latter is reminiscent of the second, and is written in C major, thus creating an efficacious change of climate. The Refrain follows, once more in the root key, together with the fourth stanza, united with the second, in the luminous key of E major. The beginning is characterized by a movement of descending thirds which becomes increasingly animated and intensifies with rapid figurations of semiquavers, linked to the reprise of the second stanza. This section forms an effective contrast with the last, and shorter, reprise of the Refrain in the original key of E minor; after two theatrical pauses, the movement closes.

Flavio Menardi Noguera and Italo Vescovo

NB: This recording was made following the Critical Edition of the Sei Cantabili e Valtz edited by Italo Vescovo and Flavio Menardi Noguera, published by Suvini Zerboni in 2009; and following the original version of Concerto No. 6, revised by Gabriele Zanetti and published by Da Vinci Editions in 2017.


Paolo Ghidoni was born in Mantova, Italy in 1964 and graduated at the young age of 17 under the guidance of Ferruccio Sangiorgi. Following this instruction, he attended chamber music courses at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole with the Trio di Trieste and at the Accademia Chigiana di Siena where, for three years (1983-85) he worked towards the completion of the distinguished violin diploma from the class of Maestro Franco Gulli. In addition to his studies with M. Gulli, Paolo Ghidoni has also studied with Ivri Gitlis at the Accademie de Sion, Franco Claudio Ferrari in Mantova and with Salvatore Accardo in Cremona. As a soloist and chamber musician, Ghidoni has performed more than 1500 concerts. He is a founding member of the prestigious Trio Matisse (1983), which won the "Vittorio Gui" prize in Florence when Ghidoni was only 19 years old. He has widely performed in Europe, the United States, Australia, Israel, China and South America. Paolo Ghidoni has collaborated with various musicians such as: Mario Brunello, Enrico Dindo, il Trio d'Archi della Scala with Franco Petracchi, Giuliano Carmignola, and Danilo Rossi. In addition, he has collaborated with hornists: Ifor James, Hermann Baumann and Jonathan Williams and also with various pianists, one of which being Bruno Canino.

Zanetti, Gabriele (Guitarist), Gabriele Zanetti graduated in guitar at the Marenzio Conservatory of Brescia. Parallel to classical studies, he has always been interested in acoustic and electric guitar. He plays in the Mandolins and Guitars Orchestra “Città di Brescia” directed by M ° Claudio Mandonico, with whom he has recorded several monographic works devoted to important authors of the original repertoire. Active as chamber musician, he recorded over ten records. He wrote the didactic method for children “Musichiamo con la chitarra”. He published “Red Hot Peppers”, a essay on the birth of jazz and popular music. He wrote the romance “Tar and the guitar of time”, a novel in which the guitar history is explained through the journey of a cat. He rediscovered the manuscript of the Sixth Concerto by Niccolò Paganini in the original version for violin and guitar and has edited the review for the Japanese publisher DaVinci. He has an intensive teaching activity in the province of Brescia.attività didattica della provincia di Brescia e presso la SMIM di Adro.


Niccolò Paganini: (b Genoa, 27 Oct 1782; d Nice, 27 May 1840). Italian violinist and composer. By his development of technique, his exceptional skills and his extreme personal magnetism he not only contributed to the history of the violin as its most famous virtuoso but also drew the attention of other Romantic composers, notably Liszt, to the significance of virtuosity as an element in art. As a composer of a large number of chamber works, mostly with or for guitar, Paganini was influential in furthering the performance and appreciation of music in private circles.

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