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Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34

Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34
Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov
b. Tikhvin, Russia / March 18, 1844; d. Lyubensk, Russia / June 21, 1908


Rimsky-Korsakov’s interest in folk music extended beyond the borders of Russia. In 1886, using a collection of Spanish folk melodies, he made sketches for a virtuoso work for violin and orchestra. Later, he decided to turn them into a showcase for the entire orchestra instead. He conducted the premiere of Capriccio espagnol himself, in October 1887, with the orchestra of the Russian Opera House, St. Petersburg.
The five sections are performed without interruption. After the vibrant opening Alborada (Morning Song), horns introduce the plaintive theme that Rimsky used as the basis for a set of variations. The Alborada returns in slightly different scoring. A brass fanfare ushers in a series of virtuoso solos for various section leaders, then the violins launch the fiery Gypsy Song. After a build-up in volume, trombones give out the theme of the final section, Asturian Fandango. The Alborada returns once again in the midst of the whirlwind coda.

Program Notes Don Anderson 2012

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