Paganini – showman, womaniser, dazzling virtuoso – is one of the most fascinating characters in the history of classical music. His violin is now kept in Genoa, where it is played once every two years by the winner of an international competition. This year, an unsavoury art dealer is found dead in his hotel room the day after the concert. Clutched in his fist is a scrap of sheet music torn off a page that belongs to the competition winner. But how did the dead man get hold of it? And why? The police ask for violinmaker Castiglione to help them unravel a mystery that has gone unanswered for over a century.
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Amusing little listen
How tempting it would be to say, " please start again, this time with more andante." Yes, the reader happily gets to know the names of a lot more pieces of music. Yes, the reader can applaud the evidence of some no doubt satisfying research by the author. But the story remains limpid. It is a pale promise of what might have happened on the next page of some missing sheet of music. Cajoled into believing that the quest these two blokes are on might be worth joining, the reader plods along from researched find to researched find. Links are made, predictably, right in front of our..ears." Yes, yes, yes ..but I guessed this," escaped from my lips far too often not to take notice and sigh.This listener would have liked a bit more andante mobile in fact..less tired, world weariness and more athletic story development.And again, we have a story where the landscape may be dotted with the wonders of the Italian countryside but it would seem all the women have gone shopping? Or perhaps they have all died or left? Or they are too old even to stay in the story to cook?
I am off to find some un cult-like, un- religious Zen. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," an old favourite, as I remember it way back in the 70's. The women are absent of course..there is little room in your average Existentialist's life for any women of value. This should be bearable because I remember the notions being sufficiently lightweight, as represented in the novel, but interesting. We shall see.
Perhaps the scene at The Funeral where Zen and il Principe are written at their finest. Plus it felt like Mr Kitchen was a bit tired that day and his " loud, banging style," momentarily wavered.
Interestingly I will say yes. Why? Because I love research, music, wit, the Italian countryside and people. I remain loyal to all the above and I sensed that Mr Dibdin was on the wane. My sympathies..somewhat belatedly.
Quality. In this particular instance, the listener gets a nice proximation.