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Op. 31 - Variations on BACH

for Solo 'Cello


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Program Notes: The Variations on B-A-C-H for Solo ‘Cello, Op. 31 was written in the Spring of 2014 for cellist and pianist Maksim Velichkin as part of a solo recital at the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena, California. Fragments on B-A-C-H, however, was written as a precursor, for Velichkin’s call-for-scores through Vox Novus’ Fifteen Minutes of Fame composition competition. In it, short two to four measure fragments from the larger Variations are compiled into a one minute vignette. The Variations on B-A-C-H opens with a strong and deliberate statement of the B-A-C-H motive before quickly transitioning into the first variation, a quirky yet serious and faithful approach to the given motive. The second variation moves the minor-tinged motive into a major key with a hint of melancholy before moving into an angular and rhythmically irregular rendering of the motive, filled with pizzicato, ponticello and harmonics. The next variation, to be played affectionately, blurs the harmonic stability through a lens of sentimentality. Our emotional palette is soon cleansed, however, by a dry and sparse statement of the B-A-C-H motive that quickly grows into a scherzando that flips the motive into large intervallic leaps and jagged rhythms and hints at the first variation. A short and assiduous andante moderato approach to the motive gives way to a bombastic and full-throttled proclamation with a hint of baroque. A short transition precedes a slow blues adagietto, followed immediately by a dramatic development of the transitional motive that pushes the cellist to a screeching ponticello climax. A quick descent using the B-A-C-H motive sets up an exciting finale and ends on a solemn note, as is the theme.

Performance History:

-June 27th, 2014; Maksim Velichkin Solo Recital; Norton Simon Museum; Pasadena, California – 7PM

-June 28th, 2014; Edendale Up Close; Edendale Public Library; Echo Park, California - 12PM

-September 5th, 2014; New Music Night; Brand Library; Glendale, California - 7PM

-September 13th, 2014; Second Saturday's Series; Glendale City Seventh Day Adventist Church; Glendale, California - 4PM

-September 27th, 2014; LAPL – Will & Ariel Durant Brach; Los Angeles, California – 3PM

-February 8th, 2015; Private Recital at Stan Harris’; Los Angeles, California – 8PM

-February 11th, 2015; Music at MiMoDa – Paper or Plastik Cafe; West Los Angeles, California – 8PM

-March 10th, 2015; Track 16 Gallery; Culver City, California – 8PM

-March 18th, 2015; Glendale Noon Concerts; Glendale, California - 12PM

-March 27th, 2015; Music at Noon – Presbyterian Church; South Pasadena, CA – 12PM

-October 3rd, 2015; Edendale Up Close; Edendale Public Library; Echo Park, California - 12PM

-November 6th, 2016; Mimi Conklin Upmeyer 2016 Concert Series; Locktown Stone Church; Flemington, New Jersey – 4PM

-July 22nd, 2017; From Bach to Britten and Beyond; Rowan University; Wilson Hall/Pfleeger Auditorium; Glassboro, NJ – 7:30

-October 22nd, 2017; From Bach to Britten and Beyond; Andrea Clearfield’s Salon; Philadelphia, PA – 8PM

-February 24th, 2018; ‘Cello Day; Rowan University – Wilson Hall; Glassboro, New Jersey – 4:30PM

-March 11th, 2018; ‘What’s in a Name?’ Recital; The International Institute for Culture - Ivy Hall; Philadelphia, Penn – 3PM

-May 18th, 2019; The Hefer Home; Zur Yigal, Israel – 11AM

-May 23rd, 2019; Bach, BACH and Beyond; The Studio Theatre; Haifa, Israel – 6:30PM

-October 21st, 2020; Philadelphia Virtual Phestival; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – 7PM


George N. Gianopoulos


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