Niccolò Paganini (1750-1825)
24 Capriccos, 1820 - Caprice d’adieu, 1833
The 24 Capricci constitute the most concrete testimony of the Paganini violin “revolution”. Completed not after 1817, the works underwent three distinct phases of editing (the first two series of 6, the third of 12), were then catalogued by Giovanni Ricordi in 1818 and published by him in 1820 in a single collection. Partially indebted to a certain 17th-century model (the “brani scritti a capriccio”, that is to say, not subject to specific formal canons), and clearly echoing an earlier collection (the 24 Capricci enigmatici included by Locatelli in his Arte del violino of 1733), Paganini’s Capricci expand on the originality of a certain contemporary French repertoire (consider, for example, the 40 Études ou Caprices by Kreutzer from 1807 or the 24 Caprices en forme d'études by Rode from 1815). These works profoundly renew the techniques and performance attitudes of the earlier models, and together create a formal, stylistic and expressive whole of inimitable value. The dedication “alli Artisti” (i.e., to professional performers) reveals the author’s intention of favoring these musicians in their dual role of consumers as well as performers. This, then, is an indication of the most plausible and stimulating approach to re-evaluating this repertoire and the kaleidoscopic sampling of musical audacity contained in the famous collection.