We have a problem. Some random guy has sabotaged our weekly music emails and we are now going to be forced to listen to five consecutive weeks of his music. From what I’ve heard, we’re in for a rough ride. Critics have compared his musical endeavors (some would say “attempts”) to the honking of a shorted horn in a 1960 pink-laminate Model T, the braying of a seizure-prone yearling donkey, the croaking of an aged and irate pond toad, and the intestinal noises supposedly made by hungry Martians, among others. He has been cut from multiple low-ranking orchestral engagements, including the Bottom-Notch Symphony, the Last Resort Philharmonic, and the No-Hope-on-Earth Ensemble. His professional collaborations have been a consistent disaster, as he has only landed one performance – the one you are about to hear – and the audience members were paid (otherwise known as bribed or forced) to attend. And yet here we are, about to listen to the first piece on the program. All I can do is wish you luck. We’ve made it this far, and it has been a great journey. If some of us don’t make it to the other side, we’ll know that you made a valiant effort and were lost in the face of conditions of extraordinary suffering. I wish you well.
In all seriousness, this is the first piece on the program that I played this past weekend at a recital I gave in Columbia, Missouri. You’ll be hearing the Caprice No. 24 by Nicolo Paganini. Paganini was an Italian violin virtuoso – renowned for supposedly having sold his soul to the devil in exchange for unbelievable violin-playing ability – who wrote 24 Caprices for solo violin. Each caprice showcases a different skill on the instrument, and the 24th caprice provides a taste of all of them in one caprice – fast runs, left-hand pizzicato, four-note chords, spicatto, arpeggios, tenths, and more. The caprice is structured in a variations format. You can hear the initial melody in the first variation, and each variation after that builds on it. This piece provides a perfect sampling of the legendary skillset of the great Nicolo Paganini.
****If you listen to other recordings of this caprice, you’ll see that I composed my own ending to the piece. Hopefully Paganini won’t mind too much 😉