Francesca Dego, one of the most sought after young violinists on the international scene, recently signed to Chandos Records, and for her first disc for the label, she can be heard playing Paganini's violin, Il Cannone.
At a press conference in the room in Genoa's Palazzo Turisi where the violin is housed, she said,
Il Cannone is not only a unique instrument because it belonged to Niccolò Paganini, but it is also one of the most extraordinary violins ever made.
The Cannone Guarnerius was made in 1743 by Bartolomeo Giuseppe “del Gesù” Guarneri of Cremona. Paganini, a keen gambler, lost his previous violin when he was still in his teens. He was lent the Guarneri violin by an amateur violinist and wealthy businessman for a concert, but he was so impressed with Paganini's performance that he let the young violist keep it. Paganini called the violin ‘the cannon' because of its explosive sound and played it for the rest of his life. He bequeathed the violin to the city of Genoa, his home town.
Dego, who in 2008 attracted widespread attention for being the first Italian female prize-winner of the renowned Paganini Competition in Genoa since 1961, now lives in London. She usually plays her Francesco Ruggeri violin, another maker from Cremona, made in 1697.
The CD is dedicated to Paganini, but doesn't contain his music. Dego explains,
This is precisely to discover the sound of Il Cannone in a repertoire that came after its famous owner, a journey through Paganini's music as seen by other composers to understand his greatness and the importance of his art in the history of the violin.
So with Fritz Kreisler's arrangements of Paganini, there's also Rossini's Un mot à Paganini, and even John Corigliano's music for the film The Red Violin.
Roberto Iovino, president of the Friends of Paganini Association, said,
This event is part of an increasingly close relationship of collaboration that the association and Genoa want to create with Francesca Dego who, not surprisingly, will hold a masterclass in October as part of the Paganini Genova Festival and the Paganini Prize, now in its 56th edition.
Top Photo: Francesca Dego, photo by Patrick Allen
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.
Not made by “Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri”! “Il Cannone” was made by Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri, possibly with some assistance from his wife, Katarina.