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Record date : 21 July 2021

Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor Op. 43

Romeo and Juliet Op. 64

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet concert overture isn’t a programmatic retelling of the story, but a depiction of its characters and moods. Bookending the work is a sombre clarinet and bassoon melody representing the Friar, while most famous of all is its soaring lovers’ theme, which after a violent climax gets recast in newly tragic, minor-tonality guise. The 7th and 24th of Rachmaninoff’s glittering variations on Paganini’s 24th Caprice for Solo Violin then actually quote the Dies Irae, highlighting its similarity to the famous Paganini melody; and the Paganini is indeed so famous that the variations open playfully with what effectively is just its accompaniment, requiring us to mentally fill in the tune ourselves. Prokofiev meanwhile was so pleased with the melodies to his Romeo and Juliet ballet that he pulled three concert suites from its score.

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