“Capriccio espagnol” Musings Now Posted!

Nov 7, 2023Manny's Musings

We are pleased to post Manny’s Musings, a preview of the program notes for our upcoming concert. Enjoy these notes, and buy your tickets for the concert to hear these pieces played in person. 

Capriccio espagnol

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Finally, this afternoon’s concert will end with a Russian work that has become synonymous with Spanish musical styles. The Capriccio espagnol of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov has been thrilling audiences since its premiere in 1887 in St. Petersburg.

A painting of an older man with a long gray beard and glasses, who is sitting at a desk, looking at a large paper document
A portrait of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov by Valentin Serov (1898)

Though he showed aptitude for math and science as a lad, he fell prey to the muses and succumbed to a lifetime in art. So much so, in fact, that after meeting other Russian composers of the day and excelling in his piano studies, he became a member of what became known as “The Five.” The Five were Russian composers who made it their business to establish a clear identity for Russian music. Thus it was somewhat ironic that Rimsky-Korsakov would become so well known for his Spanish Caprice. Yet, perhaps not so much when we remember that he was the man who wrote a book on orchestration that would become a required text for study for many composers that followed after him.

The Capriccio was first thought of as a solo work for violin and orchestra but he thought better of it and spread the wealth of his composition among the various instruments in the orchestra. It is, for all intents and purposes, a five-movement concerto for orchestra!

It begins with a lively Alborada that celebrates our daily sunrise with full percussion complement and competitive solos by the clarinet and solo violin. The lovely Variazioni that follow are a smooth showcase for the horns and voluptuous strings, ending with a wandering flute that leads us to another Alborada but a half step higher and the sound of what is mostly a wind band. The penultimate movement, Scena e canto Gitano is a suite of opportunities for soloists and complete orchestra sections to, well, show off a bit at their own pace before we end with the Fandango Asturiano and its blindingly energetic whirling dance music. The pace is dizzying and intoxicating but this is Spain… eso es asi!

Favorites: Yours, Mine, and Ours will be presented at the Schneider Theater at the Bloomington Center for the Arts on Sunday, November 19 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $14-$25 for adults and seniors, and free for students with ID and can be purchased online or by visiting the Bloomington Box Office in person Wednesday – Friday: 12:30 – 4:30 p.m., or by emailing boxoffice@bloomingtonmn.gov or  calling 952-563-8545

A photo featuring violin, viola, flute, clarinet, oboe, and bassoonists, a mix of men and women, wearing black outfits or tuxedos, taken from an overhead perspective