RACHMANINOV Sergei, Variations on a Theme of Corelli
Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme by Corelli have a singular place in the composer’s output as the only major work for solo piano that he composed after leaving Russia in 1917. The title is slightly misleading since these are variations on La Folia, an ancient tune that was used by Corelli – as well as by Lully and Vivaldi among others – but certainly wasn’t composed by him. This set of twenty variations (with an Intermezzo between the 13th and 14th variations) was composed in Switzerland and the manuscript is dated 19 June 1931. Rachmaninov himself gave the first performance in Montreal on 12 October 1931. Dedicated to his friend Fritz Kreisler, the variations show Rachmaninov at his most concentrated and ingenious.
© Nigel Simeone