Hyperion Records

Andante and Scherzo capriccioso, Op 16
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The Andante and Scherzo capriccioso, Op 16, evidently dates from the early 1840s (indeed quite possibly from 1843, the year in which David played Berlioz’s Rêverie et Caprice, which his Op 16 somewhat resembles, under the composer’s baton). This well-balanced diptych offers plenty of opportunities for display, but has more substance than many another bravura showpieces. The Andante begins in D major. After a short and stealthy orchestral introduction the violin announces a tender, lyrical main theme, immediately characterized by the dotted rhythm of its head-motif. It then embellishes it with decorative figuration, but the sweetly melodic character of the music is not disturbed.

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

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