Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op.28

One of the most spectacular virtuoso violin pieces – Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin and orchestra (in French: Introduction et Rondo capriccioso), Op. 28, in E major, by Camille Saint-Saëns was written in 1863. It is dedicated to the remarkable violinist Pablo de Sarasate, who premiered it on April 4th  1867 at the Champs-Elysées, the composer conducting. Saint-Saëns originally conceived it as the finale to his Violin Concerto No. 1 Op. 20, but after its success the composer published it separately.

As early as 1859 Saint-Saëns wrote a Violin Concerto at the request of the 15-year-old virtuoso Pablo Sarasate. The young composer had already attracted the attention of the musical community with his student compositions, and in the 1850s he stood out as a remarkable organist and one of the most interesting musicians of his time. In the 1850s-60s Saint-Saëns composed symphonic music and other works, as well as his first three piano concertos, the Second (1868) establishing him as a prominent figure in the musical life of Paris and other cities in France. Published in 1870, it was perhaps the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin and orchestra that brought him his greatest fame, and by the end of the nineteenth century it remained his most performed work.

The piece consists of two parts. The violin part in the introduction (Andante malinconico) sounds distinctly lilting and at the same time expressive. In the temperamental Rondo-capriccioso (Allegro ma non troppo) the soloist’s part is bravuraly virtuosic with brief contrasting melodic episodes and ends with a spectacular cadenza.

A few years after its composition Georges Bizet made a version for violin and piano. Jacques Durand and Claude Debussy scored it for two pianos. Extremely popular, the work has been performed by virtuoso performers on other instruments.

The concert will feature an arrangement for violin, string orchestra and piano by conductor Rustem Abyazov.

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