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Introduction and Rondo capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra

Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, Op. 28
Camille Saint-Saëns
b. Paris, France / October 9, 1835; d. Algiers, Algeria / December 16, 1921


In addition to 10 full-length concertos, Saint-Saëns composed a number of brief concert works which showcase the skills of their soloists on a more modest scale. He wrote the dazzling showstopper Introduction and Rondo capriccioso during a summer holiday in the Pyrenees Mountains. He composed it for Pablo de Sarasate, the Spanish violinist whose brilliant artistry and sunny personality also inspired works by Max Bruch (Scottish Fantasy) and Edouard Lalo (Symphonie espagnole), as well as Saint-Saëns’ Concerto No. 1.

Resembling in form an operatic recitative and aria, it begins with a haunting prelude in slow tempo. The recurring theme of the fiery rondo is rather stern. The intervening episodes cover a wide range of moods, from exuberance to a seductive Spanish-style dance with guitar-like accompaniment that pays homage to Sarasate’s Spanish heritage. The music concludes with a truly dazzling coda.

Program Notes Don Anderson 2012

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