The whole movement is really only an introduction, however, to the Scherzo capriccioso, launched by the violin’s final ascent in harmonics from the last bar of the Andante. Cast at the outset in D minor, this is a sort of diabolic—or perhaps impish, for its character suggests mischief rather than harm—tarantella of great velocity and brilliance, recalling Berlioz as much as Mendelssohn, though the orchestral tuttis have a solid, Beethovenian ring to them. There is a lilting second subject, and at the centre of the movement dramatic solo entries (fortissimo on the lowest string) introduce an elegant, contrastingly serenade-like tune in C major closely allied to the Andante theme (though there is no slackening of pace here), which is embellished by increasingly bravura double-stopping, and developed in a volatile and fiery manner. All three subjects are reprised, the serenade-like one now in A major and leading into a barnstorming D major coda whose final fff cadential bars must have been guaranteed to bring down the Gewandhaus.
from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2010