The Strad Issue: May 2015
Description: A Romanian violinist proves his virtuoso mettle in solo Paganini
Musicians: Razvan Stoica (violin)
Composer: Paganini

Paganini’s music is a proving ground for virtuosity and this, surely, is what ensures its enduring appeal. Razvan Stoica’s approach to the Caprices here suggests that virtuosity is his motivation, particularly when contextualised by hyperbolic booklet-notes about this alumnus of the Enescu Conservatoire in Bucharest and former pupil of Ilya Grubert in Amsterdam. Indeed, there is much here that seems to make such comments justified. Stoica is a committed player with a fantastic command of up-bow staccato and ricochet bow strokes, as in Caprices nos.1 and 7, for example. There is some impressively fast playing – as in nos.4 and 16 – and the awkward no.17, which catches out the very best, is well managed here. Tone production throughout is strong and clean.

That said, I didn’t much enjoy the hectoring timbre throughout the disc, and feel that these works merit greater musical sensitivity and variation, interlacing outright virtuosity with Paganini’s early Romantic poignancy. Aliud’s recording sounds exciting but there are ‘noises off’ in no.18, and no.24 sounds as if it was recorded in a different session. There is undeniable merit here but this disc is not without shortcomings.