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Meet An Audience Of Alley Cats And One Fine Fiddler

What the world needs now is another cat video. Seriously.

The combination of cats and the music of Nicolo Paganini was just an idea purring in the head of violinist Augustin Hadelich until he met director Paul Glickman and animator Tam King (the team behind the animated short El Salón México). Together they've come up with Fantasia Dei Gatti (Fantasy Of The Cats), a delightful animated short film that owes a debt to the Disney classic Fantasia.

The film stars Hadelich, one of today's most arresting violinists, and one persistent, music-loving kitty he meets on a snowy evening. Hadelich has just finished a recital, and as he exits the rear of the concert hall the plucky feline convinces him to play an encore.

In a back alley, he begins his serenade. Neighborhood cats of all stripes prick up their ears to the strains of Paganini's Caprice No. 17. Few today can play it with as much fire and finesse as Hadelich — the cats seem to sense this. As the music's impish theme unfolds, the rambunctious kitties get carried away and soon a full-blown cat ballet ensues.

After a few fanciful "paws" de deux, Hadelich packs up his violin to leave. But as he saunters down the alley, the cats notice something very special about their fiddling friend.

Hadelich, the Italian-born son of German parents, releases an album of all 24 Paganini Caprices this week. "I grew up in Italy with this music," Hadelich says. "I always thought the descending figures in the Caprice No. 17 sound like meows."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.