Caprice III op. 72 No. 3

12 Mins
Picc.2.3.2.BCl.2.CBsn - - Timp - Perc - Cel - Hp - Str


First performed on 27 April 2017 by Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Celcila conducted by Antonio Pappano at Sala Santa Cecilia, Rome

Commissioned by the Migros-Kulturprozent-Classics for the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

This Caprice for orchestra is the third of 10-15 minutes virtuoso and light concert openers I have started to compose for various conductors and orchestras. I called it Caprice Romain, in reference to the city of Rome, which I discovered when my mother took me there for my 8th birthday. There is no secret programme behind this title, merely a fantasm. It follows a long tradition of French composers who, like Berlioz in his Carnaval Romain, Bizet in his Rome Symphony and Saint-SaŽns in Urbs Roma, were inspired by the immortal city and its fascinating art and history.

Caprice Romain is scored for a large orchestra and employs a set of toy-hand bells usually played in schools, which I love for their distinctive sound that no other orchestra instrument can produce. There is also a set of tubular bells, played in this piece by two musicians (four hands).

The piece starts slowly and quietly, adagio misterioso, giving the impression of the city awakening, with some bells ringing in the far, in a discreet homage to Puccini's beginning of Tosca's Act III. The music accelerates and becomes a fast allegro risoluto, almost non-stop to the end, with various ostinati, on top of which all the instrument families (first the woodwind, then the strings, finally the brass) will play Be bop - like virtuoso choruses.

I have used a recurrent four-notes motif Eb - C - C# - D which represents the antique initialism SPQR  Senatus Populusque Romanus "the Senate and People of Rome" that one can find a bit everywhere in the city, on ruins, monuments, sewer plaques etc. At one moment, the music seems to calm down, with choral-like chords on this four notes motif in the lower brass. Then follows a cadenza-like duet between the bass clarinet and solo double bass, accompanied by a pulse of the harp and tambourine. The music then accelerates again and becomes more and more frantic. Just after a powerful climax, it suddenly returns to the tempo adagio of the beginning and the bells ring, resonating with 'bellows' effects in the strings (short crescendos on open strings and harmonics) perhaps evoking the Vatican's bells. A brisk and fast coda then interrupt's the bells and concludes this caprice with humour.

© Richard Dubugnon, Paris 2016


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