For Oboe and Piano
Amilcare Ponchielli (1834-1886) was born in the Italian village of Fasolaro not far from Cremona. His extraordinary musical talent was quickly recognized and at the age of 9, he was sent to the Milan Conservatory to study composition. After graduating, he immediately started composing opera, for in Italy it was then impossible to make a name for oneself except through opera. At first, he had no luck and for a number of years was forced to take jobs as a band conductor in several small towns before he wrote the opera for which he is remembered, La Gioconda with its famous Dance of the Hours, perhaps the only work for which he is still remembered. After this, things changed. Recognition brought a professorship at Milan Conservatory and many other honors. Among his many students were Puccini, Pizzi and Mascagni.
Capriccio was published three years after Ponchielli's death. It was composed some time in the 1850's. It is basically an operatic theme an several variations. There are arias, recitative-like transitions, sections of quiet lyricism and radical changes of mood. It was clearly intended as a recital work showing off the oboe and Ponchielli demonstrates how well he knew the instruments abilities.the work lasts about 11 minutes. Our sound bites takes little snippets from various parts.