Romance for Violin and Orchestra No.1 in G, Op.40 (1802)
Renaud Capuçon violin / Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, Kurt Masur conductor
Allmusic: Often described as a "preparation" for the Violin Concerto, Op. 61, of 1806, the Romance in G stands as a fine work in its own right, clearly demonstrating Beethoven's mastery of the high-Classical style of Mozart and Haydn. Furthermore, Beethoven creates subtle connections between disparate sections of a work.
Cast in a two-episode rondo format (ABACA coda), the Romance in G is not imbued with sonata-form characteristics, as are many of Beethoven's later rondo movements. The rondo theme (A) is in two parts, each performed first by the soloist then repeated by the orchestra. Descending sixteenth notes in the solo part mark the beginning of B, in which the orchestra is relegated to a purely accompanimental role, creating unity by including figures from the rondo. Section B spends a significant amount of time on the dominant (D major); however, this does not represent a modulation but a preparation for the return of the rondo in G major. Again, the soloist performs both segments of the A section alone, this time including a running eighth note accompaniment under each of the literally repeated themes. Beethoven set the second episode, C, in E minor. The minor mode, dotted rhythms, and staccato passages give the section a "gypsy" music tinge. The foray into a new key area ends with the return of the G major rondo theme, again played by the soloist, but with accompaniment by the orchestra. Beethoven forgoes the repetition of each of the two parts of the rondo and ends the work with a brief coda featuring a lengthy trill in the solo violin. The three fortissimo chords that close the piece seem oddly, possibly comically, out of place in this generally quiet work, but they do resemble the orchestral string parts at the end of each rondo section.