The elegant, but impassioned musicianship of Augustin Hadelich evokes the violinists of the ‘golden age’ of the early and mid-20th century. Winner in 2015 of the inaugural Warner Music Prize, Hadelich now releases his first recording for Warner Classics: Paganini’s 24 Caprices for solo violin. These works of proverbial virtuosity were conceived by the flamboyant Nicolò Paganini to test and showcase every aspect of a violinist’s skills. As Gramophone has written, Hadelich “meets and surmounts all obstacles, yet it's not technical wizardry that most impresses but his musicianship.”
Hadelich’s musical personality has been summarised by the Washington Post as “distinct and nostalgic, never a dizzying exhibition of skillRead more devoid of substance”. Similarly, Gramophone has written that Hadelich “meets and surmounts all obstacles, yet it's not technical wizardry that most impresses but his musicianship. He makes the musical sense of each piece crystal clear, and his playing has an inner life, each phrase, each note, is felt as it's played.” Described as a “brilliant violinist” by The New York Times, in the words of The Strad he is “a masterful musician”.
In general, Hadelich plays these pieces not as studies but as tone poems, even rhapsodies. In the mystical trilling of No 6 he captures the music’s poetic heart: his diminuendo as the music changes key towards the end of the piece is absolutely breathtaking. In No 17 in E flat he sounds as if he’s challenging rivals to have as much fun as he is having: the only time I have heard this music sound a more mercurial note is in Liszt’s piano transcription of it, and then only in the hands of Horowitz. In the 24th Caprice his expressive way with slides and vibrato (which is never used with predictable consistency), his rich multiple-stops, and often thrilling passagework at speed, is breathtaking.