The Red Violin Caprices

Naxos: 8559364

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The Red Violin Caprices


Gramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2008



Catalogue No:




Release date:

28th April 2008




64 minutes


CD (download also available)
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The Red Violin Caprices

Corigliano, J:

The Red Violin Caprices (for violin solo) (2002)

World Première Recording

Sonata for Violin and Piano

Thomson, V:

Three Portraits (1944)

arr. Samuel Dushkin, 1947

Five Ladies (1983)

Eight Portraits (1928-1940)

Philippe Quint (violin) & William Wolfram (piano)



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John Corigliano has revisited his score for the 1997 film The Red Violin several times. In The Red Violin Caprices, content is allied to a technique making strenuous demands on the performer. The pensive Theme is identical in substance to that heard in the earlier Chaconne (Naxos 8.559306), and its five variations range in style from the Paganinian virtuosity of the first, to the restrained ‘folk’ tinge of the third. Corigliano’s Violin Sonata is among his earliest acknowledged works, its final ‘Allegro’ enhanced by some scintillating instrumental interplay. Coming from a very different musical background, and representing a very different musical aesthetic, Virgil Thomson’s music displays a skilful assimilation of Gallic clarity and an American-derived nostalgia, with hymn tunes and traditional songs often being evident.

“I just heard Philippe Quint’s new recording of my Red Violin Caprices and he was absolutely amazing.” John Corigliano

John Corigliano: The Red Violin Caprices


Variation 1

Variation 2

Variation 3

Variation 4

Variation 5

John Corigliano: Violin Sonata

I. Allegro

II. Andantino

III. Lento

IV. Allegro

Virgil Thomson: 3 Portraits (arr. S. Dushkin for violin and piano)

No. 1. Barcarolle, A Portrait of Georges Hugnet

No. 2. Tango Lullaby, A Portrait of Mlle. Alvarez de Toledo

No. 3. In a Bird Cage, A Portrait of Lise Deharme

Virgil Thomson: 5 Ladies

I. Cynthia Kemper, A Fanfare

II. Anne Miracle

III. Alice Toklas

IV. Yvonne de Casa Fuerte

V. Mary Reynolds

Virgil Thomson: 8 Portraits for Violin Alone

No. 3. Georges Hugnet, Poet and Man of Letters

No. 1. Senorita Juanita de Medina Accompanied by her Mother

No. 2. Madame Marthe-Marthine

No. 4. Miss Gertrude Stein as a Young Girl

No. 5. Cliquet-Pleyel in F

No. 6. Mrs. C[hester] W[hitin] L[asell]

No. 7. Sauguet, from Life

No. 8. Ruth Smallens

Gramophone Classical Music Guide


“This is another incarnation of John Corigliano's Red Violin music. First the film and the Chaconne for violin and orchestra derived from it (1997); then the Concerto (2003); and now the composer has extracted a set of caprices for solo violin.
These were originally written as studies and the actors, filmed playing the instrument, had to mime to them. Because of the demands of the film, reflecting the life of a violin at various times and places, the writing has a wider stylistic range than most contemporary works for solo violin.
Corigliano's Sonata for Violin and Piano (1963) is an early piece with ingenious Stravinskian panache in the rapid writing and lyrical charm elsewhere of the kind which led to TheRed Violin 35 years later. Quint and Wolfram make it sound just as impressive as Bell and Denk (Sony).
Most of Virgil Thomson's Portraits were for piano so it's unusual to have three groups for violin, with and without piano. Thomson began with seven of the Eight Portraits for solo violin in 1928 and went on to produce about 150. He actually composed in front of the sitter like an artist sketching, and the results are delightfully spontaneous. There's a 'Tango Lullaby' for Mlle Alvarez de Toledo, who must have been quite a character; sketches of Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, both so important in Thomson's life; and composer colleagues like Henri Sauguet.
Philippe Quint's panache is stunning and this CD offers some of the most attractive music for solo violin in the entire repertoire.”

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