Francesca Dego: Il Cannone review – Refinement and control

Fri, Apr 16, 2021, 05:00


Il Cannone Francesca Dego plays Paganini’s Violin

Francesca Dego, Francesca Leonardi

Chandos CHAN 20223


Italian violinist Francesca Dego has had the pleasurable honour of playing Nicolò Paganini’s own violin in public and using it for this new recording. Paganini called the 1743 Guarneri del Gesù his “cannon” because of the power of its sound. Happily, Dego’s focus is less on muscle power than on the refinement and control that muscularity can also provide. 

The violin was bequeathed to the City of Genoa, and its minders are understandably controlling and miserly about letting it out of their hands. Dego seems to have developed an immediate affinity for it, and conveys the wonderful feeling that, under pressure, every note remains within easy reach. 

Her chosen repertoire takes the instrument all the way into the 21st century. She opens with Fritz Kreisler’s arrangement of Paganini (La Clochette) and then offers Kreisler himself (Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice). John Corigliano’s Red Violin Caprices (based his film) is followed by a solo written for her by Carlo Boccadoro in 2019 and Boccadoro’s arrangement of Paganini’s Cantabile. 

The album ends with three very different Paganini tributes – Rossini’s Un mot à Paganini, Alfred Schnittke’s 1982 A Paganini and Karol Szymanowski’s 1918 reworkings of solo Paganini caprices for violin and piano. Dego’s sensitive partner, playing a Fazioli piano, is Francesca Leonardi.