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Composed in 1841 for the Belgian violinist Alexandre Artot (cf. Correspondance générale no. 824), this elegant piece is one of Berlioz’s less well-known works. Though obviously not among his finest compositions it is nevertheless of interest as the only piece of music written by him in a concertante style (the symphony Harold in Italy with solo viola is not exactly comparable: it is not a viola concerto). It is also another example of the composer’s skill at adapting vocal music for instrumental purposes: the substance of the work derives in fact from a discarded aria for Teresa early in Act I of Benvenuto Cellini (H 76), though transposed from B minor in the opera to F sharp minor/A major here (this discarded aria may be heard in the recording of the original version of the opera made in Paris in December 2003 by John Nelson). It recalls in several places the music from the Love Scene of Romeo and Juliet; compare for example bars 11 and following, and again bars 95 and following, of the Romance with bars 123 and following of Romeo and Juliet. Berlioz frequently used it on his concert tours abroad: it was played by several of the leading violinists of the age, among them Ferdinand David (Leipzig, 1843), Lipinski (Dresden, 1843), Joachim (Brunswick, 1854), and Wieniawski at Berlioz’s last series of concerts in St Petersburg in 1867-8 during his final trip to Russia.
et caprice (duration 7'25")
— Score in large format
(file created on 18.07.2000; revised 11.12.2001)
© Michel Austin for all scores and text on this page.
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