Every generation has its select few incomparable violinists, but of all the great violinists that have ever lived – Ernst, Joachim, Kreisler, Heifetz, Menuhin, Oistrakh, Perlman – perhaps none is spoken of in such terms of great legend as Niccolo Paganini. Indeed, people have wondered in jest whether the violinist sold his soul to the devil to acquire his fiendish ability on the violin. Paganini left us, along with 2 violin concertos and other collected works for violin, a series of 24 Caprices, or virtuosic pieces for solo, unaccompanied violin. Amongst aspiring violinists, these are a challenge to be met and with dedication and great effort, possibly mastered.
Of the 24, Caprice No. 5 is one of the more approachable, though this still leaves it quite difficult. Of the dozens of recordings I have listened to of Paganini’s Caprice No. 5, I am perhaps the most impressed with Augustin Hadelich’s. Many violinists achieve impeccable intonation on this caprice, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard as wonderful tone over the whole range of the instrument, or as exquisite control of each and every phrase. So, enjoy. Maybe some day you’ll meet the challenge of Caprice No. 5 for yourself!