Virtuosismo: Paganini & Vieuxtemps (2019)

Vieuxtemps, Paganini

Ning Feng, Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias

Rossen Milanov

DSD 512 Exclusive

Ning Feng, 1st Prize Winner of the Paganini Competition 2006, performs Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 1 and Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto No. 4. His violin is the Stradivari ‘MacMillan’, 1721. 

This is his second recording with OSPA - Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias - under the baton of conductor Rossen Milanov. The previous album 'Apasionado' received excellent reviews, Gramophone: "(...) a dazzling left hand and a firm, rich tone which one cannot help but admire (...)". 

Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1
Paganini composed all his pieces for violin and orchestra for his own use, keeping them secretly stowed away. Consequently, most were published only after his death, and some not until recent decades. The first of his six violin concertos is a virtuosic tour de force, demonstrating not only his incredible technical command but also his great talent for melody and drama. It breathes the spirit of Rossini, whose operas were enormously popular at the time. Originally composed in the key of E flat major, Paganini tuned his violin a semitone up so that he could play in D major, as it were, and thus execute complicated double stops that are impossible in E flat while producing a brighter sound from his instrument. It was partly for this reason that contemporaries said the concerto was ‘unplayable’. Today the work is always performed in D major. 

Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto No. 4
The next piece was written by the son of a weaver, amateur violinist and violin maker from Belgian Verviers named Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1882). A child prodigy, he enjoyed an outstanding career as a violinist from the age of six, studying in Vienna and Paris (with Charles de Bériot) and touring Europe, Russia and the USA. From 1871 he was an influential teacher at the Brussels conservatory, where his pupils included Eugène Ysaÿe. But within two years, in 1873, a stroke caused lameness in his right arm, and Vieuxtemps was forced to withdraw from teaching. He spent his final years composing in a sanatorium in Algeria, where his daughter had settled with her husband. Vieuxtemps was greatly admired by contempories such as Berlioz and Paganini, whom he met in London. When Robert Schumann heard him in Leipzig in 1834, he described the fourteen-year-old’s playing as magical and compared him with Paganini. That was during a tour of Germany and Austria, when Vieuxtemps was accompanied by his father. After playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in Vienna, he decided to stay there for some time to study composition with Simon Sechter, under whom Anton Bruckner was later to study counterpoint. After his London debut in 1834, Vieuxtemps pursued his composition studies with Anton Reicha in Paris, the fruits of which are particularly evident in his First Violin Concerto, dating from 1836 (and later published as no. 2). The Fourth Violin Concerto in D minor opus 31, on this recording, was Vieuxtemps’ own favourite concerto. He composed it when employed as a court violinist in Saint Petersburg (1846-1851).

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Ning Feng

Born in Chengdu, China, Ning Feng studied at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and London’s Royal Academy of Music where he was the first student ever to be awarded 100% for his final recital. The recipient of prizes at the Hanover International, Queen Elisabeth and Yehudi Menuhin International violin competitions, Ning Feng was First Prize winner of the 2005 Michael Hill International Violin Competition (New Zealand), and in 2006 won first prize in the International Paganini Competition, following in the footsteps of violinists such as Kavakos, Kremer and Accardo.

Established at the highest level in China, Ning Feng performs regularly in his native country in recital, with their many local orchestras, and with major touring orchestras. Now based in Berlin and performing worldwide, Ning Feng has developed a reputation internationally as an artist of great lyricism and emotional transparency, displaying tremendous bravura and awe-inspiring technical accomplishment.

In recent seasons Ning has performed with orchestras such as the Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer, Russian State Symphony/Vladimir Jurowski, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg/Tang and in halls such as Sydney Opera House, Moscow’s Great Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center and Beijing’s NCPA. In recital he has played in prestigious series and festival such as Vancouver Recital Series and Hong Kong International Chamber, Prague Spring, and Schleswig-Holstein Festivals.

In the 2013/14 season, Ning’s orchestral engagements include his debut with the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra with Ivan Fischer, a return to the Hong Kong Philharmonic/van Zweden both in Hong Kong and Taipei, his debut with the Asturias Symphony Orchestra/Carneiro and concerts in China, Singapore, Taiwan and Macau with the Kaoshing Symphony and NCPA Orchestras. In recital, Ning Feng will perform in cities such as Hong Kong, Moscow, Boston and across China, and with Igor Levit and Sebastian Klinger he will perform piano trios across Germany, including at the Heidelberg, Ludwigsburg and Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festivals. Other festival appearances include his return to the Menuhin Festival Gstaad and Kissinger Sommer Festival where he performs every year and where he will be an Artist-in-Residence in 2014.

Ning Feng records for Channel Classics in the Netherlands. His most recent recording of the solo sonatas by Bartok, Prokofiev and Hindemith was released in August 2013. His previous disc, Solo, featuring works by Paganini, Kreisler, Berio, Schnittke and others, received a first-class review by Audiophile Audition: “You will be blown away by the artistry of this album, and blown away in great sound to boot. This is a stunning recording of solo violin works by a variety of composers… and there are really few violinists who are able to pull it off. Ning Feng is one of those who can, not only for his sterling playing but also because of the rabid intelligence behind the selection of pieces here. None of these works is anything less than enthralling, and a few approach the incandescent. Milstein’s arrangement of the Paganiniana has never been bettered… this is an unqualified recommendation of a wonderful album that demonstrates the highest artistic and programming skills possible.” His recording of the Bruch Scottish Fantasy and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin will be released later in 2013.

Ning Feng plays a 1721 Stradivari violin, known as the ‘MacMillan’, on private loan, kindly arranged by Premiere Performances of Hong Kong.

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Virtuosismo: Paganini & Vieuxtemps (2019)

Vieuxtemps, Paganini

Ning Feng, Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias

    Luister -

(…) Wie in de discografische historie van deze werken duikt stuit onvermijdelijk op Jascha Heifetz, die onsterfelijk werd met juist deze werken. Ning Feng hoeft zich nergens zorgen over te maken. Hij probeert op geen enkele wijze zijn grote voorganger te imiteren, integendeel zelfs, en de superieure opnamekwaliteit geeft Ning Feng een voorsprong op de oude meester.

Siebe Riedstra

    Diapason 4D -

(...) Une efficacité expressive étonnante (...)

    BBC Music Magazine -

So complete is his command of every parameter that after a while one almost forgets the strenuous difficulty involved. (...) Fengs finest release to date, captured in alluringly natural sound. (...)

Julian Haylock

    Presto Classical

The Chinese violinist’s distinctive, honey-sweet timbre suits these two contrasting showcases by virtuoso violinist-composers to perfection: Feng wears their often fearsome technical demands disarmingly lightly, and is fully alive to the operatic qualities of the Paganini in particular, phrasing bel canto melodies and filigree passagework like a nineteenth-century diva at the top of her game.


(...) he executes all difficulties without apparently breaking sweat, pace the two garbled passages of descending semiquaver triplets in the finale. (…) Feng produces playing of real poetry, with a firm, burnished tone. The duet with the horns in the first movement is nicely done. Even better is the duet with the harp in the second movement

    De Gelderlander -

De violist Ning Feng (1982) staat garant voor vuurwerk op de viool. Hij weet echter ook de lyriek op een onnavolgbare wijze glans te geven. (...) Zijn inlevingsvermogen en soevereine techniek staan garant voor magische momenten. (...) Wat zou het mooi zijn wanneer Ning Feng zich in de toekomst met zijn Spaanse orkestvrienden eens zou werpen op de overige zes concerten van Vieuxtemps. (...)

Virtuosismo: Paganini & Vieuxtemps (2019)

Vieuxtemps, Paganini

Ning Feng, Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias

Cables: Van den Hul
Digital Converters: Horus, Merging Technologies
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks, Tom Caulfield (DSD 512)
Microphones: Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis, custom design
Notes: DSD 512 Stereo files created by Tom Caulfield at the NativeDSD Mastering Lab using Jussi Laako's latest EC modulators from Signalyst
Producer: Jared Sacks
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks, Tom Caulfield
Recording Location: Auditorio Palacio de Congresos Príncipe Felipe, Oviedo, Spain
Recording Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD 256
Speakers: Grimm LS1

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40719: Virtuosismo: Paganini & Vieuxtemps
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Violin Concerto no. 1 in D Major, Opus 6 - Allegro Maestoso - Tempo Giusto
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Violin Concerto no. 1 in D Major, Opus 6 - Adagio
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Violin Concerto no. 1 in D Major, Opus 6 - Rondo, Allegro Spirituoso - Un Poco Piu Presto
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Violin Concerto no. 4 in D Minor, Opus 31 - Andante - Moderato - Cadenza
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Violin Concerto no. 4 in D Minor, Opus 31 - Adagio Religioso
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Violin Concerto no. 4 in D Minor, Opus 31 - Scherzo, Vivace - Trio, Meno Mosso - Tempo I
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Violin Concerto no. 4 in D Minor, Opus 31 - Finale Marziale, Andante - Allegro
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