The series on extravagancies is to end on sunny pre-summer note with two sets of Paganini variations and an explosion of Latin American temperament.
Rachmaninoff and Lutosławski worked on the same theme by Paganini – his Capriccio 24, naturally for the violin – in totally different circumstances. Rachmaninoff wrote his Rhapsody in the summer of 1934 in Switzerland and premiered it later that year in Baltimore, while the Polish composer conceived his in the occupied Warsaw seven years later where he played the piano duo in cafés for a living with fellow composer Andrzej Panufnik. Lutosławski orchestrated the original version for two pianos only in the late 1970s when he was already enjoying international recognition and was about the same age as Rachmaninoff at the time of writing the Paganini Rhapsody.
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) was writing in similarly accessible tonal idiom as Rachmaninoff, and in his Chôros he was exploring the musical patterns of his native Brazil: in Portuguese the word means “crying, wailing”, but is also used for street musicians playing both European and African instruments and often improvising on Indian or popular tunes.
Villa-Lobos wrote more than ten chôros, some for large ensembles and other for small one or even soloists. Chôro N. 6 has been originally written for orchestra, and counts among longer ones. The composer claimed that he was inspired by a laid back atmosphere of rural abundance in northeast Brazil, yet he warned that the music does not portray anything "objective".
It is not exactly merry, but it seems right to pay a tribute to Brazilian conductor Silvio Barbato who was the first to perform the immensely joyful Danzon No. 2 by Arturo Márquez with our orchestra. It was January 1, 2009, and Latin American classical music was a global hit because of the international break-through of Venezuelan music school system and above all the charismatic Gustavo Dudamel. Ljubljana welcomed the music and the conductor with standing ovations, but plans for future co-operations were made impossible by Maestro Barbato’s death in a plane crash over the Atlantic less than six months later. But the memory of that wonderful concert remains!