A capriccio or caprice (sometimes plural: caprices, capri or, in Italian, capricci), is a piece of music, usually fairly free in form and of a lively character. The typical capriccio is one that is fast, intense, and often virtuosic in nature. The term has been applied in disparate ways, covering works using many different procedures and forms, as well as a wide variety of vocal and instrumental forces
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The Capriccio Italien is a common disc mate for the "1812," but the "Cossack Dance" from Mazeppa is not. The two pieces are certainly a better choice than Beethoven's sprawling Wellington's Victory or some such, and these appetizers are played with a gusto equal to that of the main course.
Tchaikovsky - Capriccio Italien. Tchaikovsky soaks up the sounds of Rome and turns them into an infectious invitation to dance. Tchaikovsky's fantasy for orchestra is a richly descriptive portrait of Italy, written when the composer spent three months in Rome in 1880. While in the Eternal City, he saw the Carnivale in full swing, and soaked up the Italian folk music and street songs. Capriccio Italien opens in sombre mood but high spirits soon kick in and the merrymaking begins. Although it’s not one of Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores, it’s hard to resist moving to the piece’s infectious rhythmic energy. By the end, you and all of Rome are dancing a tarantella in the streets.