The violinist Nicolo Paganini wrote his set of 24 Caprices Op 1 as a collection of virtuosic études, each focusing more or less on a few specific, very challenging violin techniques.
Caprice No 17 is a good representation of the term 'capricious'. Opening with a layering fanfare for the solo violin, the first section alternates very fast scales with staccato double stops, the scales coming across as frenzied outbursts of energy contrasted with the more calm responses. The middle section is infamous among violinists for its impressive show of fingered octaves in the minor, leaping quickly across the full range of the violin just as quickly as if they were single notes.
Caprice No 21, Amoroso, begins with a kind of loving aria for the violin, in a duet with itself. In this Caprice one can get a sense of the Italian operatic style that permeates much of Paganini's other music. The second section uses long upbow staccato bow strokes - notoriously difficult but very flashy.
Recorded in Nelson Cathedral by RNZ
Sound engineer: Graham Kennedy