Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations

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Composer: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Artists: István Várdai (cello), Tibor Bogányi (conductor), Pannon Philharmonic

An ardent admirer of Mozart, Tchaikovsky’s splendid Variations on a Rococo Theme are full of subtle homages to the Classical composer. The theme itself, however, is an original invention by Tchaikovsky himself rather than an excerpt from the past. Composed for German cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, the piece was not performed in its original form for many years after its initial composition, as Fitzenhagen had insisted on making changes to the structure and virtuosic cadenzas for its first performance, against Tchaikovsky’s wishes. Both versions are included on this release, allowing the listener to fully appreciate the struggle between Tchaikovsky’s Classical vision and Fitzenhagen’s desire for the cello to shine. The composer’s love for Mozart also comes to the fore in the Nocturne Op.19 No.4, one of six pieces initially composed for piano that showcases the lyrical melodies and clear structure Tchaikovsky strived to create. The folksonglike Andante cantabile was one of the composer’s most popular movements during his lifetime, and, as was common, was often performed separately from the rest of the quartet. Along with Tchaikovsky’s last piece for cello, the sprightly Pezzo capriccioso, this album exemplifies the composer’s innate understanding of the instrument and illustrates perfectly how he brings this understanding to life.

00:00:00 Variations on a Rococo Theme, TH 57: Op. 33 in A Major
00:18:37 Nocturnes No. 4 in C Minor, Op. 19: Andante sentimentale
00:23:16 Pezzo capriccioso, TH 62, Op. 62 in B Minor: Andante con moto
00:30:06 String Quartet, TH 111, Op. 11 in D Major: II. Andante cantabile
00:36:58 Variations on a Rococo Theme, CW 59 : Op. 33 in A Majore

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