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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous violin mastery., 2 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Ernst: Erlkonig (Le Carnaval De Venise) (Josef Spacek, Gordon Back) (Naxos: 8572575) (Audio CD)
Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst the Czech violinist-composer was born probably in 1812. Despite being a formidable violin virtuoso and producing a considerable body of compositions for the instrument, his name is virtually unheard of today. His reputation falls under the enormous shadow cast by Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840). My only other encounter with his works has been through the recordings of that great virtuoso violinist Ruggiero Ricci. I love the wonderful recording of his Violin Concerto in f sharp minor, Op.14 by Ricci on a now rare 'One-Eleven' CD. Ernst also played the viola, and gave several performances of Berlioz's Harold in Italy, under the composer's direction.

The CD will be mainly of interest to violinists, as it showcases the vast technical spectrum that this instrument has to offer. Perhaps the final track of the CD `Le Carnival de Venise - Variations burlesques, Op. 18 is his most well known work. The theme is followed by a set of 25 variations, which display all the technical wizardry that was at the composer's disposal : double-stops, artificial harmonics, spiccato, and G string melodies. It is a stunning tour de force. Yet, the Feuillet d'Album Op.16 and the Elegie show the lyrical side to this composer, with a wealth of melodic invention.

Josef Spacek has a wonderful technical command and beautiful, rich tone. Gordon Back offers admirable support on the piano. Booklet notes set the context, and the Naxos sound is exemplary. All in all a warmly recommended disc.
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