Caprice was written for Matthew van Emmerik, to showcase his virtuosity in an engaging piece of concert music. The work is in theme and variation form, with the primary material being the theme from the last of Paganini’s Ventiquattro Capricci per violino solo, a collection of 24 caprices for solo violin. This theme has been the inspiration for similar works by many composers since it was first published, including Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Benny Goodman and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
In this work, the famous theme is treated to a more contemporary approach. The first variation, Capricious, relies on motor rhythms and jagged dialogues between the soloist and the band. It is couched in an organic scale reminiscent of the Phrygian mode. The second variation, Sad, is in direct contrast, acting as a traditional ballad and allowing the soloist to explore the expressive side of the instrument.
The third variation, Energetic, is a micro set of variations in itself, designed to display the soloist’s innovative technique and stamina. Each section is more challenging than the last, until the work concludes with a whirlwind dance at breakneck speed.
Like all of Batterham’s recent work, the musical language of Caprice draws upon classical, jazz, funk and ska elements to create a unique sound where anything can happen, and probably will. This arrangement was made possible through Matt’s instigation and generosity.
View a video of Fletcher Mitchell performing the version with piano below: