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‘The Devil’s Violinist’

by Kaori Shoji

This is a tribute to Niccolo Paganini, the 19th-century violinist often resurrected on screen, mainly for his utter, utter hotness — it was said Paganini didn’t make a distinction between the Stradivarius in his hand and whatever lady he happened to fancy at that moment.

Now Bernard Rose’s “The Devil’s Violinist” pays its respects to one of history’s most intriguing musicians by casting German violinist David Garrett in the title role. Garrett debuted with the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra when he was 10 years old, and in Europe, Garrett’s name pretty much means drop-dead-sexy-rock-star-slinging-a-violin. Yet his upper class upbringing gets in the way of portraying a man who was, by all accounts, a dirtbag Neanderthal of a sex maniac. Perhaps this is the reason why much of the story is set in London, where the prim and manicured aristocratic backdrop offsets Garrett’s chiseled features, and the very nice relationship he starts with singer Charlotte (Andrea Deck).

The production values are splendid and Garrett’s music is sublime. But Paganini’s ferocious, animal craziness is just not in the building.