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October 7 , 2009

Praise and prizes for Zehetmair’s Paganini

Released last August Thomas Zehetmair’s new recording of the 24 caprices for solo violin by Niccolò Paganini meets with enormous critical praise and has already won accolades such as a Diapason d’or and a Supersonic award and was included in the quarterly list of Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik. Some excerpts from international reviews:

Zehetmair has the flamboyance required, from the mind-boggling spinato of the opening Andante and the scurrying glissandi which open the Agitato, both pieces blizzards of bowing industry, to the spidery pizzicato which animate Tema. He inhabits these pieces naturally, seeking out the most expressive nuances of touch and tempo in each bar of the music.
Andy Gill, The Independent

Zehetmair has the capacity to bring character and spirit to the music, and to show that there is more to it than mere circus acrobatics.
Geoffrey Norris, Daily Telegraph

Zehetmair brings all his love of danger and modernity to Paganini’s 24 Caprices for solo violin – early 19th-century pieces fiendish enough to have been written by the Devil. … Each in the set brings its own revelations and beauties. … Zehetmair is Vulcan, the god of fire.
Geoff Brown, The Times

Zehetmair employs an astonishing dynamic range, articulated by a glittering array of lifted and legato bow strokes that tickles both the ear and the imagination. He relishes the music’s manic virtuoso chuckling, and even throws a few extra tricks of his own into the mêlée.
Julian Haylock, BBC Music Magazine

The highest technical hurdles are mastered with utmost command, and some additional embellishments and variations give his approach an even more spellbinding touch. A sensational record; only very few violinists in the world could match this level.
Norbert Hornig, FonoForum

Zehetmair avoids all smoothness; no honey-sweetness is dripping from his parallel thirds and sixths. He is interested in the risky, the audacious and even delusional aspects brewing in these pieces. Zehetmair discovers a sound of despair…: As if a haunted person was improvising against the great void…
Claus Spahn, Die Zeit

Each of the Caprices sounds like a character piece; Zehetmair’s unabashedly unconventional approach doesn’t gain magic from polished virtuosity but from its livid hues and its sometimes bizzarre raggedness. ..Well possible that Paganini can sound more beautiful with other violinists – here one finds verity.
Martin Wilkening, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Thomas Zehetmair’s recording opens exciting and overdue new perspectives…He underscores the expressive extremes and, with his most varied tone and his art of dynamic shading, conveys a multi-faceted and differentiated image of this both demonic and fragile music. Not least he reveals the improvisational character of these caprices… All this is not only intelligently conceived but also, on the violinistic level, executed in a most brillant way. An ear-opener of highest calibre.
Felix Meyer, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Zehetmair addresses blazing exclamations at his unsettled listeners, he preaches permanent rebellion. …Zehetmair doesn’t approach Paganini from a rich or even sweet tone but rather from the unrest of our present time which he captures in his sonic shadings.
Reinhard J. Brembeck, Süddeutsche Zeitung

Zehetmair deals with the musical text like a real sorcerer thereby demonstrating a kind of command that by far exceeds technical detail. The violinist has literally internalised these pieces.. The acoustics of the Austrian church and Manfred Eicher’s production don’t blur the rendering but rather add a sonic envelope that underscores the character of Zehetmair’s approach. The sound makes for an even greater disc.
Stefan Drees, klassik.com