Igor Stravinsky

Capriccio, for piano & orchestra

    Description by James Leonard

    After he had premiered his Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments in 1924, Stravinsky had played that work about 40 times in Europe and America. By late 1928, he decided that he needed a new solo vehicle for his piano playing and Stravinsky began composing his Capriccio for piano and orchestra after Christmas of that year. The work was completed in September, 1929, and premiered in Paris with Ernest Ansermet conducting the Paris Symphony Orchestra and the composer at the piano.

    The Capriccio was composed after Stravinsky had completed his "Tchaikovsky" ballet Le Baiser de la fée, a work whose music is based on the songs and piano piece of Tchaikovsky, and the same spirit of melodic refinement and rhythmic gracefulness permeates the three movements of the capriccio. Having written the Allegro capriccioso ma tempo giusto, the whole work took its title from that movement. Despite being scored for three each of flutes, oboes, and clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, tuba, and timpani plus ripieno and concertino strings without second violins, the capriccio is a much lighter and more self-consciously charming work than the weighty Piano Concerto. It is also a more stylish work; in his writings about the capriccio, Stravinsky mentions Weber and Mendelssohn, "the two Beau Brummels" of music and his writing for the piano has some of their effervescent spirit as well.

    The opening movement of the Capriccio starts with a slow-sounding introduction which is integrated the Presto body of the movement. This introduction returns at the close of the movement to give the impression of a rounded ABA form. The central movement is marked Andante rapsodico, but the expressive indication has more to do with the apparent emotionality of the themes than the structure of the music which is in a clear ABA form. The Andante capriccioso finale is the lightest and fastest of the three movements and, again, the expressive marking has more to do with the cheerful and witty quality of the themes than with the form of the music which is in rondo form.

    The Capriccio is a huge step forward in Stravinsky's writing for the piano. In place of the heavy rhythms and thick textures of the Piano Concerto, he wrote for the piano in a manner much more in line with his manner of composing for winds and brass -- that is, more gracefully and elegantly.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Presto
    2. Andante rapsodico
    3. Allegro capriccioso ma tempo giusto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Somm SOMMCD 2662
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 002894795516
    2015 Sony Classical 88875026162
    2015 RCO RCO 15002
    2015 Mariinsky MAR 0587
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon B002398272
    2015 Chandos CHSA 5147
    2013 Hyperion CDA 67870
    2012 Dutton Digital / Dutton Laboratories 9814
    2011 Decca 4782759
    2011 Decca 478 275-9
    2011 Alba ABCD 286 1-3
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099990725
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 Decca 4783028
    2011 Decca
    2010 EMI Classics
    2010 Cascavelle 3119
    2010 ATMA Classique 22656
    2010 Decca
    2009 Naxos 8506009
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921757
    2007 Sony Classical Essential Classics 103112
    2007 Naxos 8557506
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 689502
    2006 Edel Classics 0002332
    2006 Edel Records 2832
    2006 Berlin Classics 0013662
    2006 Music & Arts CD1184
    2005 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 4048
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 86073
    2004 Document 221905
    2003 Andante AN 1100
    2003 Berlin Classics 0020442
    2002 Decca 467818
    2002 Decca
    2001 Gmn.com 102
    2000 Chandos 9240
    2000 Berlin Classics 0032112
    1999 London 443577
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459 067-2GCC10
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459010
    1995 MusicMasters 67158
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 46295
    1994 Chandos 9238
    1993 Pearl 9020
    1993 London 440229
    1992 EMI Music Distribution 67276
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 46290
    New York Philharmonic NYP2003
    Document 221910
    CBS Records 45797
    Chandos 6654