Charles de Bériot – Scenes or Caprices, Duos Concertants, Spanish Airs

Posted on December 31st, 2009 by

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)

12 Scenes or Caprices, Op. 109

No. 1. La Separation

No. 2. La Polka

No. 3. Le Lezard

No. 8. Saltarella

No. 9. La Reine

No. 10. Marche Russe

No. 11. L’inquietude

No. 12. La Consolation

8 Studies Op Posth.

No. 1. Graduated shading phrase by phrase

No. 2. Dramatic character, masked contrasts, frequent opposition

No. 3. Brilliant character energetic pronunciation

No. 4. Example of punctuation in the energetic style

No. 5. Character grave and sweet. Liquid emission of sound

No. 6. Martial accents, Rhythmical time, bow firm and sustained

No. 7. Accent of rage. With animation and vivacity

No. 8. Imitation of old master.

PSS . Recorded 2006

Violin- Antonio Stradivari 1699 (Crespi) from the Collection of the Royal Academy of Music

3 Concertant Duets, Op.57
Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Christine Sohn
Recorded 2006

No 1 (G minor)

No 2 (E minor)

No 3 (D Major)

Spanish Airs Op 113

No 1 Adagio

No 2. Moderato Tempo di marcia

No 3. Andantino cantabile

No. 4. Allegretto -Tempo di Fandango

No 5. Andantino


de Bériot was nineteen years old when he arrived in Paris, determined to meet Viotti, then at the end of his ill-starred tenure at the Opéra. He did not consider himself to be a finished artist at the time that he importuned Viotti for lessons. However , he was brushed off, with the warning that study might destroy his uniqueness of style and technique.  It as reported that Viotti said:

“You have a fine style! Give yourself up to the business of perfecting it! Hear all men of talent; profit by everything, and imitate nothing.”

This may well have been right, but nonetheless, the Belgian put himself under the wing of the next generation and sat in Pierre Baillot’s class for a some months.  Although his individuality did not lend itself to submitting to the conservatoire regime, the results were very apparent; de Bériot’s systematic approach to the study of colour and articulation, revealed in  legion études and descriptive caprices, whilst never venturing into dramatic hubris or technical excess, speaks of his relationship with Baillot’s inherent classical restraint and organisational vigour, unified with imagination and an enthusiasm for timbre, so eloquently revealed in  Baillot’s  L’Art du Violon.

Sculpture: Portrait bust of Charles-Auguste de Beriot by Jean-Pierre Dantan. Head and shoulders. Plaster, c.1840.(Royal Academy of Music)


Composer Jeremy Dale Roberts

Great to have this – I’ve already tried to spin a kind of narrative for myself (La Séparation; Le Départ; La Fougue; l’Inquiétude; La Consolation; etc. Probably way off track). The music – like Alkan’s – is linguistically sometimes impoverished; but it’s interesting how, in both cases, pattern and the action of bow (and of course a dynamic plot) take the burden of expression and drama, rather than harmony or any distinction of line. I’m interested in the background. Way back I enjoyed a prolonged love-affair with that whole galère; and I found it poignant how the survivors – people like Georges Sand and Pauline Viardot moved on and ‘filled out’.