Duration – 27:00
Johannes Brahms- Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel for piano, op. 24,
arranged for String Orchestra (2009)
The Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24, is a work for solo piano written by Johannes Brahms in 1861. It consists of a set of twenty-five variations and a concluding fugue, all based on a theme from George Frideric Handel‘s Harpsichord Suite No. 1 in B♭ major, HWV 434. They are known as his Handel Variations.
The music writer Donald Tovey has ranked it among “the half-dozen greatest sets of variations ever written”. Biographer Jan Swafford describes the Handel Variations as “perhaps the finest set of piano variations since Beethoven“, adding, “Besides a masterful unfolding of ideas concluding with an exuberant fugue with a finish designed to bring down the house, the work is quintessentially Brahms in other ways: the filler of traditional forms with fresh energy and imagination; the historical eclectic able to start off with a gallant little tune of Handel’s, Baroque ornaments and all, and integrate it seamlessly into his own voice, in a work of massive scope and dazzling variety.”
For more information go to – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variations_and_Fugue_on_a_Theme_by_Handel
I arranged Johannes Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel for String Orchestra in 2009 for Sinfonia Toronto and their music director and conductor Nurhan Arman. The arrangement sticks as close to the original as possible, in large part because the music translates well for string instruments. The piano writing is symphonic in scope, uses lots of chords, uses keys and themes that work well for strings, and more. As with the piano version, the string orchestra version is challenging to play. Nurhan Arman and Sinfonia Toronto gave a great first performance. An excerpt of this performance is available on YouTube, with a link on my Videos, Compositions page.
This arrangement was commissioned and first performed by Sinfonia Toronto, Nurhan Arman, conductor.