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Op. 11 - Twelve Variations on

                 an Original Theme

for 'Cello & Piano


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Program Notes: The composition of Twelve Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 11 began in 2006, one of my earliest pieces, initially as a piano solo. I soon set it aside and picked it up again two years later, transforming the very few variations I had started into a duo for ‘cello and piano after deciding to write a piece in dedication to the two professors who initiated my musical interest and studies; Dr. Juan LaManna, a pianist and conductor, who introduced me to the sounds of classical music in my first college class ever and the following semester, his wife, Elizabeth LaManna, a cellist, who began teaching me basic music theory. The theme, in e minor, is a stately, melancholic melody that allows the cello to sing with a simple arpeggiated chordal accompaniment from the piano. The first variation, in the same key, shakes up the serene qualities of the theme with a new rhythmic drive before landing at a solo piano transition reminiscent of the theme’s accompaniment. This solo ushers in the second variation, marked adagietto, in c-sharp minor, the first major departure of the theme. The third variation, a quirky and wistful waltz in g major, allows the cello to demonstrate a delicate pizzicato accompaniment to a light interpretation of the theme for piano before a dramatic shift to e minor for a sensual tango inspired variation filled with chromatic hints and suggestions of the theme for solo piano. The fifth variation, in c minor, is a syncopated pseudo-blues number that transitions into a playful allegretto in e-flat major. The seventh variation, for solo ‘cello, is a dramatic and virtuosic interpretation of the theme with alternating arco bowings and pizzicato accompaniments. A short piano interlude picks up the rhythm that the ‘cello solo ends with and transforms it into a lush and romantic introduction to the eighth variation in a-flat major, marked lento sentimental. The cello sings in its high register before the piano ushers in the ninth variation, in the home key of e minor. This movement is the closest we’ve come back to the original theme and is a reminder for the next three variations take us the furthest from that tune yet. The tenth variation, marked dreamy, is a jaunty departure for the ‘cello atop a bed of piano arpeggios before a solo piano development grows into the eleventh variation, in b major marked moderato, quasi maestoso. A short ‘cello solo prepares the theme for the twelfth variation, an allegro fugato in e minor filled with quirks and sudden changes of character. A dramatic and virtuosic coda wraps up the final thoughts on the theme bringing to a close twelve impassioned variations on an original theme.

Performance History:

-December 8th, 2012; Classical Revolution – LA Indie Series; Novel Cafe; Los Angeles, California – 2PM
-July 31st, 2013; Music at MiMoDa – Paper or Plastik Cafe; West Los Angeles, California – 8PM
-August 20th, 2013; Velichkin & Senekeremian in Concert; St. Mark's Episcopal Church; Glendale, CA - 7PM


George N. Gianopoulos


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