La Ronde des Lutins

Antonio Bazzini

La Ronde des Lutins

Op. 25 • “Scherzo Fantastique”

About this work

During his lifetime, Italian virtuoso violinist Antonio Bazzini was as widely admired a composer as he was a performer; late in life especially, his serious-minded chamber music and orchestral music earned him pan-European recognition. He ultimately held a position of prominence at the Milan Conservatory, where he taught composition to the likes of Pietro Mascagni and Giacomo Puccini. Today, however, he is remembered almost exclusively for a single virtuoso showpiece for violin and piano, composed well before either of those two worthy pupils was even born -- La ronde des lutins, Op. 25 (1852).

La ronde des lutins (usually translated as "Dance of the Goblins" or "Round of the Goblins") is described by Bazzini as a scherzo fantastique for violin and piano. And fantastic it is: the miscreant goblins force the violinist to stretch his or her fingerpower to the limit (especially considering the 1852 year of origin) in order to keep up with their devilish antics. Ricochet bowings, frantic double-stop tremolos, wild leaping from string to string while reiterating the same note, and, of course, the false harmonics requisite to any mid-nineteenth-century violin showpiece fill the pages -- all following a clean, compact, and charmingly mischievous rondo plan.