Variations on a Rococo Theme

  • St James Church 197 Piccadilly London, W1J 9LL United Kingdom
Cellist Gemma Rosefield

Cellist Gemma Rosefield

Conductor Mark Shanahan
Cello Gemma Rosefield

Programme

Berlioz Overture Les francs-juges
Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra
Schumann Symphony no. 3, 'Rhenish'

The Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33, for cello and orchestra was the closest Tchaikovsky ever came to writing a full concerto for cello and orchestra. The style was inspired by Mozart, Tchaikovsky's role model, and makes it clear that Tchaikovsky admired the Classical style very much. However, the Thema is not Rococo in origin, but actually an original theme in the Rococo style.

Tchaikovsky wrote this piece for and with the help of Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, a German cellist and fellow-professor at the Moscow Conservatory. Fitzenhagen gave the premiere in Moscow on November 30, 1877, with Nikolai Rubinstein conducting. This was perhaps the only hearing of the Variations as Tchaikovsky wrote the piece until 1941, when it was played in Moscow without Fitzenhagen's by-then-standard emendations.

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. While the theme upon which the composition is based is Tchaikovsky's own, the graceful contours that make up the first half of this theme show clearly which style period Tchaikovsky had in mind [...more from Wikipedia].