CAPRICE (1978) Op.12

Opus number:  12

Title: Caprice

Instrumentation: solo cello

Date written: 1978, New York City

Length: 8 minutes

Commissioner and dedicatee: Scot Williams

Premiere performance: Scot Williams, cello, April 17, 1980, Michael Paul Hall, The Juilliard School

Important subsequent performances: Eric Bartlett, New York New Music Ensemble, Carnegie Recital Hall, February 15, 1983; Bartlett, March 31, 1983, American Academy in Rome; Bartlett, February 21, 1984, The Boston Conservatory

Recording: Eric Bartlett, cello, North/South Recordings #1018; tape at the Boston Coonservatory library of Bartlett performance

Program notes: Caprice for solo cello was written in 1978 and is dedicated to Scot Williams. The piece consists of several basic character types that are at first presented separately and then later in combination. The juxtaposition of these cross-cut strands of music produces a kind of ironic counterpoint of characters; hence the title Caprice.

Reviews: [recording] “Bell is the most lyrical and consonant of serialists. Somewhat like Dominic Argento, he constructs his rows out of consonant intervals, which produces the effect of a rather fluid tonality under his decidedly tonal melodic lines. The Caprice for Solo Cello is in some ways the most adventuresome music here roughly divided into a three-part slow-fast-slow sequence. The lyrical, opening slow section reappears at crucial points for rhetorical emphasis.” Fanfare May/June 1999, Vol. 22 No. 5

            “Larry Bell, who holds the doctorate from Juilliard, has won a long list of prizes and grants, and teaches at the New England Conservatory. This disc offers four compositions which differ widely in mood and performing forces.  . . . Caprice, for solo cello, and Fantasia on an Imaginary Hymn illustrate both in title and content one of the most notable characteristics of Bell’s music: a wide range of styles, techniques, and effects within the same piece.” Jocelyn Mackey, Pan Pipes, Fall 1999

The present release samples Larry Bell’s music for cello, and a very contrasted body of works it is too, of which the earliest is Caprice Op.12 (1978). This is actually the first of a series of similarly titled pieces for solo instruments. This is a freely constructed fantasy based on several basic elements continually transformed, separated or combined in many ways. This is a brilliant piece of musical display exploiting the many characteristics of the instruments, though never extravagantly so. A really fine work that cellists should happily add to their repertoire.Hubert Culot, (Jan. 2003)