Vladimir Ashkenazy introduces and plays the Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42 by Rachmaninov

A film by Christopher Nupen

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Program notes

When Sergei Rachmaninov composed his Variations on a Theme of Corelli, he had not published any piano works for over a decade. It was 1931, and though he would live for a further 12 years, it would remain his final work for solo piano, a moody and introspective work reflective of the melancholy that had so often plagued him in his life and career.

Vladimir Ashkenazy, one of the most accomplished interpreters of Rachmaninov, knows the composer better than perhaps anyone else and has been instrumental in bringing it to a larger audience. To introduce the Corelli Variations, he speaks eloquently and informatively about the work, its place in Rachmaninov’s oeuvre, and its particular musical qualities that place it among his most revealing and intimate compositions. We then follow him to Lugano, where he plays them through with the mind-boggling technical expertise and artistic refinement that have been the trademarks of his genius for decades.

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