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The Devil’s Violin: Edson Scheid plays Paganini

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Edson Scheid headshot square

Note: The Empire Viols had to cancel because of a positive COVID case; we thank Edson Scheid for stepping in at the last minute to perform this fabulous program.

The 24 Caprices by Nicolò Paganini represent one of the greatest achievements technically and musically for the solo violin in the early 19th century. The collection was published by Ricordi (Milan) in 1820 though the individual pieces were certainly composed over many years prior to that date. Cumulatively, the caprices present the most daunting challenges for violinists, from ricochet bowing to staccato stroke, extensive string crossing and double stops. Paganini makes full use of the violin’s fingerboard and extends the usual range for scales and arpeggiation. Far from being simply demonstrations of new daring techniques, however, in the hands of a virtuoso artist, the caprices can carry extraordinary lyricism. Today the Caprices are often performed on modern violins and bows, but rarely on period instruments. This afternoon, for the first time ever at GEMS Midtown Concerts, Paganini’s Caprices will be heard on a period violin with gut strings and a classical bow.

Edson Scheid ~ period violin

Edson Scheid has been praised for his "polished playing" (The Strad), for being a "virtuoso violinist" (The Boston Globe) and a "violin virtuoso extraordinaire" (Fanfare Magazine). His performance of Strauss’s song Morgen at Carnegie Hall alongside Joyce DiDonato and Il Pomo d'Oro was described as follows: "The concertmaster, Edson Scheid, proved a worthy foil as violin soloist" (The New York Times). A native of Brazil, Edson Scheid is based in New York, where he plays with the city’s leading period orchestras. He frequently performs throughout the United States on both modern and period instruments, and in Europe, Asia, North and South America with such ensembles as Il Pomo d’Oro and Les Arts Florissants.

Edson Scheid’s many performances of Paganini’s 24 Caprices, on both period and modern violins, have been received with enthusiasm around the world. He has been featured live in-studio on "In Tune" from BBC Radio 3 and his recording of the Caprices on the Baroque violin for the Naxos label has been critically acclaimed: "Far from being mere virtuoso stunts, Scheid’s Caprices abound in the beauty and revolutionary spirit of these works..." (Fanfare Magazine).

His second solo album, On Paganini’s Trail...H. W. Ernst and more, has been released under the Centaur Label – the first recording ever of this repertoire on a period violin. New York Concert Review writes that "Mr. Scheid is a superb violinist and a musician who can handle the fiendish challenges of this repertoire while finding the music in it.", and Early Music America praises Edson Scheid for taking "his time through these works, letting them breathe without losing sight of execution or musicality..."

Edson Scheid holds degrees from the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg, the Yale School of Music and The Juilliard School, where he was the recipient of a Kovner Fellowship. He is a two-time winner of the Historical Performance Concerto Competition at Juilliard, and a recipient of the Broadus Erle Prize at Yale.

Artist Website

1:15 – 2:00 pm
All concerts are free; no tickets or reservations are necessary.

In person at The Church of the Transfiguration, 1 E 29th St, New York City

Live stream details: You can watch it on your computer in any of two places by clicking on the name you wish: our website or YouTube.

Midtown Concerts sponsors lunchtime performances of music of the 18th century and earlier. Ensembles are chosen by a panel of early music specialists from the metropolitan area.

Time: Thursdays, 1:15 – 2:00 pm
All concerts are free; no tickets or reservations are necessary.

Concerts are in person at St. Malachy's Church, 239 West 49th Street, Manhattan, AND live streamed.