Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations Program Notes
The Rococo Variations, for cello and orchestra, is a very different piece to some of the other works Tchaikovsky completed in 1876, including the ballet Swan Lake, or the tone poem Francesca da Rimini (scored for a large orchestra and inspired by Dante’s depiction of murdered lovers cast into the second circle of hell!).
In his mid-thirties, Tchaikovsky became increasingly inspired by music from the 18th century - leading later to his suite Mozartiana, and these variations, among other works. Scored for a small classical-sized orchestra (two each of the standard woodwind instruments, two horns, and strings), the work is expressive but in a very refined way, as the opening melody is followed by seven contrasting variations, with differing characters, tempos and keys.