A virtuoso solo passage which usually appear near the end of a movement of a concerto

"Cadenza" in music refers to a virtuosic and often improvised solo passage, typically found in a concerto or other solo instrumental compositions. It is a moment within the music where the soloist has the opportunity to showcase their technical skill, creativity, and expressiveness. Cadenzas are often inserted near the end of a movement, usually before the final resolution.

During a cadenza, the orchestra or accompaniment often holds a sustained chord or pauses, allowing the soloist to take center stage and perform in a more freeform manner. This can involve elaborate runs, trills, arpeggios, and other intricate techniques that demonstrate the performer's mastery of the instrument. Cadenzas also provide the performer with the chance to reinterpret themes from the main body of the composition, adding their personal touch to the music.

In many classical compositions, cadenzas were initially improvised by the soloists during performances, showcasing their improvisational abilities. Over time, composers began to write out cadenzas, incorporating them into the printed score. Performers could then choose to play the written cadenza or create their own based on the provided material.

Cadenzas have evolved to become signature moments in concertos and solo works. They offer an opportunity for the soloist to connect with the audience and demonstrate their technical prowess and artistic interpretation. In some cases, especially in historically informed performances, performers may choose to improvise cadenzas, honoring the tradition of spontaneous creativity that was common in earlier periods of music.

Example of Cadenza

Leonidas Kavakos, Paganini Cadenza