Three Paganini Caprices Op. 40 – Karol Szymanowski
In 1917 Szymanowski and his family left Tymoszówka and moved to Elisavetgrad, where he composed as well as playing a few concerts of his own music and accompanying violinist Wiktor Goldfeld. It was for such winter and spring 1918 concerts that Szymanowski transcribed three Paganini Caprices - D major No. 20, A major No. 21 and A minor No. 24 - for violin and piano, dedicating the first two works to his friend and accomplished violinist Paweł Kochański and the third one to another violin virtuoso, Józef Ozimiński, who a few years later, in 1922, would become the first musician to play Violin concerto No. 1. The Three Paganini Caprices were first performed by the Goldfeld-Szymanowski duo in Elisavetgrad on 25th April 1918.
Rather than mechanically adding piano accompaniment to the original violin part, Szymanowski's transcription is marked by his own style and focuses, among other things, on the harmony of the piano part.
The score was first published by Universal Edition in 1926, the violin part having been prepared for print by Paweł Kochański.
Szymanowski's transcription of Caprices has been popular with foreign musicians - Paganini's original serving as a spring-board - and has been recorded by Ulf Hoescher and Michel Béroff (for EMI), Nicolas Dautricourt and Laurent Wagschal (for Saphir), Salvatore Accardo and Laura Manzini (for Dynamic), Thomas Zehetmair and Silke Avenhaus (for EMI), and others. In 1977 the work was recorded by Magdalena Rezler and Maciej Paderewski (Polskie Nagrania, Muza 1986), and the Polish Radio released the interpretation of Konstanty Andrzej Kulka in 2003.
Author: Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska, September 2007.