Francesca Dego pays homage to Niccolò Paganini with a new recording of works inspired by the great violinist.

Dego plays Paganini’s violin, the legendary ‘il Cannone’ made by Guarneri del Gesù in 1743, one of the most important musical instruments in the history of Western music.

Il Cannone has been heard on record just a handful of times. Dego was given the honour of recording with it after the success of her first performance on the instrument in October 2019, when she was invited to play Paganini’s First Violin Concerto at Teatro Carlo Felice’s Paganini Celebratory Concert in Genoa, Italy. The recording was made in November 2019 at Genoa Town Hall, where il Cannone is permanently housed and guarded by a six-person security detail. It will be released on Chandos on 26th Febraury 2021.

Dego comments: “Spending a few enchanted days recording with this priceless treasure was unforgettable. I was overwhelmed when I was first handed the instrument that caressed the ears of Schumann, Schubert, Goethe, Rossini, Bellini, Berlioz, Chopin, Heine, and so many more. I remember standing in that very room as a young girl, hypnotised, staring at history behind glass, fingers tingling at the thought of touching it. And suddenly there I was, holding Paganini’s violin.

The instrument sounds noble, velvety, wise. I think of lava, or hot chocolate. There is this ‘no nonsense’ quality about it, as though it is not willing to accept any shortcut, compromise, or youthful intemperance from me. Its reluctance is inviting me to listen, really listen, to its haunting grace. I feel so privileged to be able to share the soul of ‘il Cannone’ in a new recording. I remember thinking long and hard about the ideal programme and carefully selecting a series of works paying homage to Paganini. The Cannon has pretty much only ever been used to record music by Paganini, so the idea of its celebrated tone teaming up with composers who idolised the Italian virtuoso throughout history is really exciting to me!”