by David Matthews

2 horns and strings
Solo Instruments with Orchestra, String Orchestra
2 horns - strings ( or or
Commissioned by the Philharmonia with funds from the Arts Council of Great Britain
First Performance
20.5.91, Wigmore Hall, London: Philharmonia Orchestra/Norman del Mar

Study score 0-571-51831-1 on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Capriccio for two horns and strings, op.54 Commissioned by the Philharmonia with funds from the Arts Council of Great Britain, this piece was written in early 1991 for a concert to mark the 70th anniversary of Dennis Brain’s birth. Before I began it I listened to a number of his recordings, and the quality of his playing that most struck me was its spontaneous exuberance. I have tried to capture some of this exuberance in my Capriccio, whose title was suggested by its form - a sequence of free variations, mostly in fast tempi - as well as its content. It was only after I had finished the piece that a friend told me that Dennis Brain had been on his way to record the final scene of Strauss’s Capriccio (with its famous horn solo) when he was killed (in a car crash), which makes the title still more apt. The 36 Ds on the first horn at the end of the piece commemorate Dennis Brain’s age when he died. Of the two horn parts, the first plays a concertante role throughout, while the second is mostly a bass part, though it joins the first in a cadenza which exploits most of the notes in the horn’s harmonic series. The string writing is mostly soloistic; the piece was conceived more as large chamber music than for orchestra. David Matthews

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News & Reviews

'Capriccio' review

'…offered a wealth of opportunities for horn virtuosity… no less rich in detail was its writing for divided strings, whose continual changes of focus captivated the listeners’ attention. The piece as a whole invoked Brain’s spontaneity and bubbling enthusiasm in a kind of Straussian serenade-like idiom which the still lamented hero of the horn would have relished' The Guardian (Meirion Bowen), 21 May 1991 Read more

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