In this masterclass, Professor Charlier works with student Giovanna Sevi on character, sound, and expression in Paganini’s Caprice No. 24. In the main theme, Charlier discusses how to create the intended effect without adding any unnecessary accents or dynamics in the process. In each variation going forward, Charlier encourages Sevi to develop a clear idea for the character of the music. Then, she can exaggerate those phrasing, dynamics, and articulations to demonstrate those characters clearly. He also challenges her to maintain a clear sound throughout; while the tone colors can change, the sound must remain high quality, even through difficult technique. In the same vein, while the tempo can change and rubato should be used, the rhythmic proportions must stay the same. Overall, Charlier helps the student amplify her musical ideas and refine her playing by paying close attention to the small details.
Capturing the intended expression and phrasing in the theme.
Determining and exaggerating the characters of each different variation.
Finding the right sound and musical ideas through experimentation.
Playing with a clear, good quality sound, even in difficult passages.
Maintaining rhythmic proportions even as tempo fluctuates.
Playing with enough freedom to capture the details.
The piece for solo violon is part of 24 caprices and were written between 1810 and 1817 by Italian composer Niccolò Paganini. It is often considered to be one of his greatest and most virtuoso of his works, and is also notoriously difficult for the violinist. At the time of its creation, it was even considered impossible to play. Norwegian musician Ole Bull was the first to play the caprices in their entirety.
Paganini's oeuvre was also very innovative at the time, because of the left-handed pizzicati, long intervals and the overlapping of the melodies.
Nowadays, the caprices are often part of the professional violin repertoire not only because of the technical complexity of the piece but also because of the musical and artistic value of Paganini’s oeuvre.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Olivier Charlier’s feedback and comments.
Revealed by the Long-Thibaud Foundation competition
Olivier Charlier counts undoubtedly among the great violinists. He conquers the public with the natural grace of pure playing, as an exceptionally dedicated and gifted performer whose virtuosity supremely serves the music.
Of a remarkable precocity, he enters the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10, and received illustrious support, as Nadia Boulanger, Yehudi Menuhin and Henryk Szeryng. Follows an impressive series of international rewards: Competition of Munich, Montreal, Sibelius, Jacques Thibaud, Indianapolis, Young Concert Artists (New york).
A brilliant career opens then and he is invited by the Parisian orchestras : Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonique de Radio France, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Orchestre de l'Opera...) as well as numerous international orchestras: London Philharmonic, Symphony Orchestra of Berlin, Tonnhalle of Zurich, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonic of Monte Carlo, RAI of Turin, BBC Orchestras, Pittsburgh Symphony, Orchestra of the Foundation Gulbenkian, National Orchestra of Belgium, Phiharmonique of Liège, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Orchestras of Montreal, Sydney, Mexico, Caracas...) and with conductors : Serge Baudo, Alain Lombard, Theodor Gushlbauer, Sakari Oramo, Yann-Pascal Tortelier, Armin Jordan, Pascal Rophé, Emmanuel Krivine, Gianandrea Noseda, Karl-Anton Rickenbacker, Lawrence Foster, James Judd, Yutaka Sado, Gustavo Dudamel, Jerzy Semkow, Charles Dutoit, Hans Graf, Klaus Weise, Michel Plasson...
His discography testifies of a great eclecticism: Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Grieg, St Saëns, Lalo... Next to the concerto "L'arbre des songes" of Dutilleux that he recorded twice, we also find works of Pierné, Lili Boulanger, Vierne, Gerard Schurmann, John McEwen, Edward Gregson, Roberto Gerhard, Cyril Scott, among whom several world premieres. His most recent recording is dedicated to Mozart concertos, with Prague Chamber Orchestra. Vivaldi will be released this year.
The Marlboro Festival was for the young Olivier a revelation, and he is since a fervent chambrist. He participates regularly to numerous festivals: Prades, "Folles journées" of Nantes, La Roque d'Anthéron, Orangerie of Sceaux, Berlioz festival, Nice, Radio-France-Montpellier...
Niccolò Paganini was a virtuoso violinist and composer born in Genoa in 1782 to a merchant family. He began playing violin at age 7, and quickly outpaced all his professors. The gifted young musician began touring the country at 18 years old, working as a freelance violinist, and was later appointed as First Violin in the Republic of Lucca in the state of Tuscany. When the area was annexed by Napoleon in 1805, the French princess Elisa Baciocchi took over the region, and Paganini began to play for her court. He resumed his tours after the princess’s court moved to Florence. After a concert at the Scala in Milan, Paganini began to get noticed and started touring every major city in Europe after receiving a prestigious award from the Pope himself. He performed his own compositions, as well as adaptations of works from fellow composers.
Though he never married and had no legitimate children, he had many romantic conquests, among them Italian singer Antonia Bianchi. His health remained problematic throughout his whole life, as he was believed to suffer from a rare genetic condition affecting joints and tissues, as well as syphilis and tuberculosis. He died relatively young in 1840, at age 57, from internal hemorrhaging.
Niccolò Paganini is considered to be one of the most virtuoso violinists of all time, and leaves behind a musical legacy consisting of many works, such as the Violin Concerto No. 1 (1818), 24 Caprices for Solo Violin (1802-1817), Moses Fantasy (1818), Centone di Sonate, Vol. 1 (1828-29), Moto perpetuo (1835) and his Variations on God Save the King (1829).