A modern parallel to the Romantic period relationship of Nicolo Paganini and Fritz Kreisler might be guitarists Jimi Hendrix
and Stevie Ray Vaughan
. The younger men of the pairs arranged and played the music of the older musicians, adding their own shine to the compositions. Everyone in the quartet was a showman in the extreme. But the genesis of such behavior in performers began with Paganini and his buddy Franz Liszt. Paganini was a mercurial enigma, whose violin talent continues to look for a peer 170 years after his death. During his lifetime, Paganini knew his talent and composed toward it, his Opus 1 Caprices
being the ultimate solo showpieces that he played with demonic relish in concert.
A century later, a violinist with none too shabby a reputation arrived in Fritz Kreisler, whose incandescent playing is perhaps the best, if not simply the most extroverted, of the modern era. Kreisler was impressed with his talent also, so much so, he arranged several Paganini warhorses for his own performance. Highlighted here is his arrangement of the most famous Caprice of all, "The Number 24 in A minor." Russian Philippe Quint's performance is like that of a Steve Vai
or Zack Wylde, so rife with technique that the violinist threatens to overpower the piece with his fireworks. Where he is successful is in not doing so, producing a performance that is a high-wire act without a net. The danger and threat are palpable, while Paganini smilespinned to some crag in Hell.