Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) composed his 24 Caprices for Solo Violin between 1802 and 1817. They’re famous for their extreme virtuosity and remain an essential part of the violin repertoire. Each caprice explores different skills, such as the very fast switching of positions and strings, double stopped trills and more. Since many of the caprices focus on double stopping / parallel chords, it doesn’t make sense to arrange all 24 of them for an instrument which only can play one note at a time; however, Kristian Oma Rønnes has arranged the following 13 caprices for solo bassoon: Nos.1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 23 & 24.
These arrangements are of an extremely virtuosic character, not only when it comes to general technique, but also for developing the extremely high (Bb2) and low range (contra A). At some places when these extreme notes appear, the arranger has added an alternative part (‘ossia’), however it is preferable that the original version is played.
Kristian Oma Rønnes’ most notable work as a composer so far is his 12 Bassoon Studies, Op.33, in which he includes a fingering chart for the extreme high notes. This fingering chart is recommended reading before playing these caprices! When it comes to the contra A’s, on some occasions an extension of the normal Bb-bell will work just fine, however on other occasions (i.e. Caprice No.5) an actual low A-bell & low A-key is needed to be able to play the chromatic scale down to the A.
Breathing should be dictated by the musical phrases, however one can also play these caprices with focus on further developing circular breathing.“Curiosity towards pushing the bassoon’s boundaries without having to move into atonality is what motivated me to complete my arrangement of these 13 Caprices. It’s about time bassoonists dared to face perhaps the most famous instrumental virtuoso of all time; Niccolò Paganini.” – Kristian Oma Rønnes
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