'During the German occupation of Poland, Andrezj Panufnik and I played unofficial concerts of two-piano music in Warsaw. This was the origin of these Variations which we first performed in 1941. As a basis I took Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin and my Variations follow closely his model. In each variation I translate the violin line for keyboard. Polyharmony often occurs between the two keyboards but tonality remains a clear force with frequent traditional dominant-tonic cadences.
In 1977, I was asked by the pianist Felicja Blumental for a composition and revised these Variations as a Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. It expands the piano-duo piece by repeating each section (apart from the theme itself and variations 10 and 11) with the soloist and orchestra exchanging roles for the second playing of each variation. Otherwise there is very little change in the musical substance. Blumental gave the first performance of the new version in Miami on 18 November 1979 with Brian Priestman conducting the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra'.
© Witold Lutosławski
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Recorded on April 26, 2013 at the 'Piano Ecstasy' concert presented by Soundstreams At Koerner Hall in Toronto, Canada. Performed by Simon Docking and Serouj Kradjian.