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ALICE HO (b. 1960)

Caprice 1994


Originally from Hong Kong, Alice now lives in Toronto and is the recipient of numerous awards and commissions including the 1999 MACRO Compos Competition. Her chamber and orchestral works have been featured at festivals in the USA, Japan, Germany, Korea and Canada and by Toronto New Music Concerts, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne of Montreal, the Canadian Chamber Ensemble and orchestras in Winnipeg, Hamilton, Vancouver and Hong Kong. Alice is a strong advocate of modern music and finds her composing interests increasingly extending into multi-media projects for dance and film.

The term Caprice or Capriccio has been with us for some time, having been regularly applied to spirited fugal works for harpsichord by Handel, Bach and their contemporaries. Bach treated the Capriccio as synonymous with the Fantasia (a piece in free form) but later on the term was unfortunately usurped by composers of string instrument etudes in which one idea (or technical action) would attempt to carry the entire composition. Happily both the Caprice and the string players survived this mundanity and the style was restored by the likes of Mendelssohn and Brahms to the form that Alice uses here (and that Penderecki uses in his Capriccio): one that moves entirely at the whim of the composer and allows us a brief but deep glimpse into the imagination at work.

The first time I heard Alice’s Caprice I knew I had to perform it. I think it was the hard-driving rhythm that initially attracted me but the harmonic language and the sensational nature of the writing for the cello really cemented my interest. Originally written as a competition piece (as incidentally were most of the works on this recording, exceptions being Britten, Penderecki and Royer) this is an archetypal Caprice: short, spectacular and intense. The sonorities of the instrument are exploited superbly and it is a blast to play!

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