Other Caprices

A few weeks ago I was in Warsaw and visited the Chopin Museum.  A fascinating place, newly opened and full of so many beautiful and interesting things.  I was utterly delighted to discover the above lithograph by Lemercier there.  It features a number of famous musicians from 1832.  

Top row (left to right): Friedrich Wilhelm Kalkbrenner (pianist), Gustave Vogt (oboist), 
Middle row (left to right): Jean-Louis Tulou (flautist), Nicolas Paganini (violinist), Frederic Berr (clarinetist).  
Bottom row (left to right): Jacques-Francois Gallay (horn player),  Pierre-Marie Baillot (violinist) and Henri Herz (pianist).

Part of the reason that this was so interesting to me is that the Caprices by Gallay are so very much in the tradition of solo, virtuosic Caprices in which Paganini wrote his violin works.  And to see Gallay there as part of the same group of "virtuosi" that included Paganini seems to make this association even stronger.   As part of my project I'm very much enjoying getting to know other solo, unaccompanied repertoire for other instruments.  A few months ago I read Eric Siblin's book "The Cello Suites: J.S.Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece" which sparked off many thoughts and was full of repertoire for other instruments which I didn't know such as the Franchomme solo Cello Caprices.  I've spoken to a number of violinist colleagues about where I should start in trying to find out more about a stylistic approach to Paganini and there have been a number of recommendations including Ivry Gitlis, James Ehnes and Thomas Zehetmair.  I've been listening a lot to the Gitlis recording and the other two are on their way.  The musical language is so similar to the Gallay Caprices though I feel Gallay seems to balance the virtuosic with the lyrical more successfully.