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Variations on a theme of Corelli, Op 42

June 1931; based on the La Folia theme

In the summer of 1931, Rachmaninov worked simultaneously on his Fourth Piano Concerto and the Variations on a theme of Corelli, a work which proved to be his final one for solo piano. The theme he adopted perhaps points to his then burgeoning neo-classical persuasions.

Certainly, the Variations date from a time when the composer was preoccupied with thinning out, if not excising, his music (see the hatchet taken to the Fourth Piano Concerto and the Second Piano Sonata). La Folie was not actually composed by Corelli, yet the attribution has persisted. Rachmaninov sets thirteen variations that precede an extended cadenza. This leads to the emotional heart of the work in the flattened tonic major key (Db). The final variations are then wild and sweep towards a ‘light at the end of the tunnel [which] allows the right hand to soar into a beautiful melody over several octaves [offering] the briefest ray of hope’ at the last (Robert Matthew-Walker). This adaptation of Rachmaninov’s music to the organistic environment is theculmination of my having played the work as a pianist for a number of years. The music’s comparative ‘leanness’ in textural terms and, once again, its largely rhythmic progress suggest an aptness for re-realization here.

from notes by Jeremy Filsell © 2014


Rachmaninov: Transcriptions and arrangements for organ
Studio Master: SIGCD324Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 2 on SIGCD324 [20'26] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD324 track 2

Recording date
10 August 2012
Recording venue
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, USA
Recording producer
Mark Willey
Recording engineer
Joe Hannigan
Hyperion usage
  1. Rachmaninov: Transcriptions and arrangements for organ (SIGCD324)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: January 2015
    Download only
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