Fantasie & Variations on a Theme from Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment
For Cello & Piano, Op.16
Servais' Fantasie & Variations on a Theme from Donizetti's opera Daughter of the Regiment is the consumate virtuoso recital piece or competition work par excellence. You could hardly do better, but it is just one of several such genre pieces that Servais wrote. We also offer his Souvenir de Spa and his Fantasy on Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville
Adrien Francois Servais (1807-1866) was born in the Belgian town of Hal near Brussels. As a child he began to study violin, but later switched to the cello, studying at the Brussels Conservatory where he quickly earned the first prize. Servais became professor of cello at the Conservatory, but gave up the post after a few years to concentrate on concert tours. The scale of his concert career can be gauged by the fact that over a period of forty years, he gave more than ten thousand concerts, visiting virtually every country in Europe. Servais is not only an illustrious representative of the 19th century virtuoso-romantic style who made an essential contribution to cello technique, greatly broadening its expressive possibilities. His playing and compositions both reflected the tastes of the new epoch, with its romantic fervor. Both Paganini and Liszt greatly influenced him. Berlioz, Mendelssohn and many others called him “the Paganini of the cello”, however, his performing style as well as his works are closer to the style of Henri Vieuxtemps, with whom he often performed.
Servais' works, which are romantic in character, combine brilliant virtuosity with cantilena qualities. In both respects they harmonize perfectly with the nature of the cello's expressive and technical means. His colorful and picturesque performing devices intensify the romantic shade of his music. This Fantasy was composed in 1856. It begins with a lengthy introduction before the theme is given out. Three tremendous variations follow capped off with an exciting conclusion.