The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Philippe Quint (violin) Dmitriy Cogan (piano)
Composer: Paganini

This disc brings together two of the most famous violinists of all time. Kreisler’s arrangements of Paganini are mainly confined to providing piano accompaniments and they cohesively complement the original works.

Philippe Quint, ex-Juilliard School and nominated twice for Grammy awards, provides convincing performances, although the extent to which he ‘follows the path of his illustrious forebears’ (as the booklet notes suggest) is open to question. His accounts of these difficult works are far from flawless. In particular, performance style can be rather suspect, as in the excessively wide vibrato at the opening of the ‘Di tanti palpiti’ variations, which cries out for the purity of tone with which Paganini himself would have been familiar. Equally, Caprice no.20 sounds rather feathery – here the rather over-reverberant recording creates problems, and Dmitriy Cogan’s otherwise tidy accompanying degenerates into the kind of unclear and yet massive sound that can result all too easily in these circumstances. The tempo chosen for Caprice no.13 is just too slow for my taste.

This said, Quint’s playing is both warm-hearted and often technically impressive, as in his wonderfully direct and impassioned Le streghe op. 8. On balance, the playing is not exciting enough to succeed fully – had it been so, I would more readily have forgiven its blemishes.

David Milsom