Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations




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Published on Feb 16, 2015

This is my January 25, 2015 performance of Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra, played on the electric guitar. Where a concerto typically has three movements each lasting 10 to 20 minutes, Rococo is a theme with seven variations that runs about twenty minutes in total. I fell in love with this piece when I started playing the cello in 1992, but it’s extremely difficult to play and I never got proficient enough on the cello to perform it publicly.

When I was younger I played the guitar professionally, but I hadn’t played regularly for about 30 years. In early 2014 I was fooling around playing Rococo on my electric guitar when it dawned on me that, with practice, I could probably play this piece for real with an orchestra. So I asked Danbury Symphony Orchestra conductor Ariel Rudiakov if he’d consider this seemingly outrageous idea, and to my surprise he agreed! So in March 2014 I began memorizing all 3,000 notes - yes, I counted - and started practicing in earnest. I spent 11 months preparing for this concert, as shown in this earlier video:


My musician friends told me if I’m playing this piece on electric guitar, I shouldn’t be shy about sounding like a guitar. I agree, though I wanted to honor the intent and cello tradition of this piece. So what you’ll hear is a variety of modern guitar sounds, but played with a mostly classical interpretation. I hope Tchaikovsky would approve!

Equipment used: Fender Telecaster with added humbucking pickup, DigiTech RP355 guitar effects unit, Mackie Thump TH-12A powered loudspeaker, EBow.

Ethan Winer is a Music Minus One artist: http://www.musicminusone.com/


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