Capriccio brillant

Felix Mendelssohn

Capriccio brillant in B minor

Op. 22

About this work

Written during the composer's second visit to England, Felix Mendelssohn's Capriccio brillant, Op. 22, is a charming example of the composer's pianistic art. The Andante introduction is a gentle, unassuming melody with a light touch of melancholy, enriched by a discreet arpeggiated accompaniment. This reflective, languid mood is suddenly shattered by the Allegro con fuoco, which starts with a nervous, kinetic cascade of arpeggios that eventually leads into the rather square, march-like principal theme. As a contrast to this theme, which is reiterated by both piano and orchestra, Mendelssohn introduces the truly capriccioso segments of the work, energetic bursts which are not easily defined as fully developed musical ideas. Nevertheless, the solo part, which showcases octaves, chromatic runs, and dizzying arpeggios, never lapses into technical display for its own sake. Mendelssohn's fluid virtuosity, even when listeners wonder where it might lead, possesses a truly satisfying charm which amply compensates for the work's conventional harmonies and predictable thematic development.