Paggioro also produces a tone quality both richer and stronger in the upper registers—and lower ones as well—from his 1899 Vincentus Postiglione violin, and together, they propel the first movement proper forward with a greater sense of urgency, an effect due to more than just a choice of tempos. […] In the slow movement, Paggioro employs some exceptionally well-tailored portamentos to enhance Respighi’s melodic surges.
Paggioro’s playing recalls particular moments in Nathan Milstein’s signature reading of Goldmark’s “Air.” In the later sonata, the duo faces stiffer competition, including Jascha Heifetz and Kyung-Wha Chung. To Paggioro’s credit, he doesn’t adopt any of Heifetz’s mannerisms—nor does he play with that violinist’s white-hot intensity. He and Ferrati nevertheless sound dramatic in the first movement, capturing its less straightforward manner of expression as successfully as they did that of the earlier sonata. They blend lyricism with searching oratory in the second movement, and they play the opening of the third ominously but characterize each of the variations strongly, reveling especially in the movement’s darker moments, but shifting with impressive rapidity from one affekt to another. With their effective performances of the salon pieces, the sense of importance they lend to the early sonata, and their expressive flexibility in the later sonata, Paggioro’s and Ferrati’s collection should appeal not only to violinists and Respighi aficionados, but to general listeners as well. Strongly recommended.