Jump to navigation Jump 32 Variations Piano PDF search The Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. Tchaikovsky wrote this piece for and with the help of Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, a German cellist and fellow-professor at the Moscow Conservatory.
DC 01112700 / Piano / SCORE /
Fitzenhagen gave the premiere in Moscow on November 30, 1877, with Nikolai Rubinstein conducting. The piece is scored for a reduced orchestra consisting of pairs of each of the four basic woodwind instruments, two horns and the usual strings, like the typical late 18th-century orchestra without trumpets or percussion. Part of the difficulty of the piece lies in this continuous and prolonged format, devoid of the usual extended orchestral tuttis allowing the soloist to rest for a few moments. The soloist is also challenged by mostly having to play in the high register using the thumb position. The theme is repeated a total of four times, then the cello plays a brief conjunctive passage, the same exact notes of which are used to link Vars. The same conjunction is played an octave lower to link Vars.
I: Tempo della Thema The first variation is in triplets, through the midst of which the orchestra restates the theme. The sound is very lively and graceful. II: Tempo della Thema The second variation features a section of conversation between the orchestra and soloist, in which the theme is nearly doubled in speed. III: Andante The third variation is a melancholy restatement of the theme in D minor, and is the only minor variation in the entire piece.
The conjunction again appears at the end of the variation, though this time much greatly varied in the key of D minor. IV: Allegro vivo After a brief pause, the warm A major returns, though this time much more similar in character to Var. This is also one of the most difficult variations of the piece, an Allegro vivo which rarely relents its constant 32nd notes. The orchestra, too, has a difficult time keeping up with its blazing speed, particularly the solo flute. V: Andante grazioso Unlike the previous variations, the theme’s opening pickup here becomes the downbeat. For the first time in the piece, Tchaikovsky cleverly and explicitly mixes the conjunction figure into the variation itself, concluding with a flourish and long trill from the solo cello, which immediately leads to the next variation. VI: Andante The sixth variation develops an accompanimental line out of the solo trill of the previous variation, over which a solo flute rendition of the theme is introduced.
After a grand « fall » by the solo cello onto a low E, the orchestra takes over gallantly with the main theme. A cadenza follows, ending back in the trills from the beginning and, once again, the melody is taken over by the solo flute. VII: Andante sostenuto The seventh variation lands comfortably on the key of C major, and is played at a more contemplative speed. VIII e Coda: Allegro moderato con anima The eighth and final variation opens with a graceful solo by the cello, largely based on the Classical idea of a mordent. The opening solo can be seen as one drawn-out crescendo, which eventually reaches fortissimo before swiftly returning to piano and being joined by a light orchestral accompaniment. The piece was written between December 1876 and March 1877, immediately following his tone poem Francesca da Rimini, and compared to the vehemence and intensity of Francesca, the Variations show a new elegant classical detachment.