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Variations on a Theme of Chopin & Other Pno Works

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Audio CD, January 25, 2000
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 25, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • Run Time: 56 minutes
  • ASIN: B000035QAW
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #586,777 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Bergman on November 28, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Rachmaninov's "Variations on a Theme of Chopin" was composed for piano in 1902-3 and was the first of three sets of variations that he composed, the others being "Variations on a Theme of Corelli" for piano in 1931 and the well-known "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" for piano and orchestra in 1934. The Chopin variations are based on Chopin's Prelude in C-minor from his set of 24 preludes and consist of 22 variations on Chopin's theme. It's not a well-known work, but it is finely wrought, with some beautiful moments, and deserves more performances than it gets.

Rachmaninov uses only the first eight bars of Chopin's 12-bar prelude plus the final chord. The first 10 variations follow the theme closely with various ornamentations, then following variations are freer in structure and mood, and from the 15th on move to several other keys before settling in C-major for the final Maestoso variation and coda. The contrapuntal 12th variation starts out like Bach but eventually becomes Chopinesque. The joyous 19th variation echoes Schumann and Brahms in its emphatic style, as also does the final variation. The coda begins with a quiet rendition of the original theme in the major, but ends with a presto flourish of runs and octaves. I personally wish that Rachmaninov had left off these noisy final measures. Overall, though, this is Rachmaninov at his pianistic best.

This CD also includes several short piano pieces written between Rachmaninov's student years and 1917, when he and his family left Russia for good. Rachmaninov revised his favorite of the Moment Musicals (originally written in 1901) in 1940. The "Song Without Words" was composed in 1886 when the composer was only 13.
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