Rachmaninoff – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini – Variation 18 – Leonard Pennario

August 15, 2014

ClassicalScores

Variation 18 from Rhapsody on a Theme of Pagainini, Op. 43

Boston Pops Orchestra
Arthur Fiedler, conductor
Leonard Pennario, piano

The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor, opus 43, is a concertante work (20 to 25 minutes in length), written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto. The work was written at Villa Senar, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18 1934. Rachmaninoff himself, a noted interpreter of his own works, played the solo piano part at the piece’s premiere at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 7, 1934 with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski. The piece is a set of 24 variations on the twenty-fourth and last of Niccolò Paganini’s Caprices for solo violin, which has inspired works by several composers. The slow eighteenth variation is by far the most well-known, and it is often included on classical music compilations without the rest of the work. It is based on an inversion of the melody of Paganini’s theme. In other words, the A minor Paganini theme is played “upside down” in D flat major. Rachmaninoff himself recognized the appeal of this variation, saying “This one, is for my agent.”

Quoted from Michael Steinberg’s “The Concerto: a listener’s guide”

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943)