Charles de Bériot-Caprices

Posted on July 19th, 2015 by


Like so many musicians, I am fascinated by studies. At least twice a year I lay my more regular concert repertoire to once side, and explore the etudes of a specific violin/composer. What I have found, and this is, I have also discovered, not such a common approach, is that it is vital to ‘take the course’, when working with such material. Whether a composer is offering materials for a pedagogical or artistic goal, or (more often than not) both, I find it vital to respect their aims, to let them shape my physical and musical corpus in the way that they have imagined. So I never cherry pick, but take on the whole set of studies, and, as music as possible, try to do this in the manner which the author intended. This has another benefit, in offering a ‘way in’, both to the composer’s mindset and physiological approach, but to their milieu.

 Charles de Bériot-at the Conservatoire in Brussels, Februrary 2015

Charles de Bériot-at the Conservatoire in Brussels, Februrary 2015

So studying Charles de Bériot’s extraordinary sets of caprices not only opens the door into the Franco-Belgian school, but also ( I like to imagine), his relationship to the world of the dramatic stages, and most of all, of course, his relationship, musical and emotional to the love of his life, the great ‘Malibran’.

Maria Malibran-Teatre Principal de Barcelona

Maria Malibran-Teatre Principal de Barcelona

He never recovered from her death in 1836, but I like to think that the carefully callibrated emotional studies, and then (sometimes bizarrely named) ‘scenes’ offer a view of their shared dramatic imagination.

Charles de Bériot lays down a serious challenge to every violinist!

These Charles de Bériot studies and caprices were recorded in 2006, but have been only available online, so not many people have heard them. They are, in my opinion, ideally suited to the clear and dramatic sound of the 1699 Stradivari on which I recorded them, the Crespi.

Prelude or Improvisation (without Opus)

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