The Red Violin (1997)
Chaconne for Violin and Piano
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Duration  17 minutes

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Recordings
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Maria Bachmann; violin, and Jon Klibonoff, piano Endeavour Classics END 1020 (2007)

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Listen to a sound clip

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Program note

The fillm, the Red Violin spans three centuries in the life of a magnificent but haunted violin in its travels through space and time. A story this episodic needed to be tied together with a single musical idea. For this purpose I used the Baroque device of a chaconne: a repeated pattern of chords upon which the music is built.

Against the chaconne chords I juxtaposed Anna's theme, a lyrical yet intense melody representing the violin builder's doomed wife. From these elements I wove a series of virtuosic etudes for the solo violin, which followed the instrument from country to country, century to century.

I composed these elements before the actual filming, because the actors needed to imitate actual performance of the music. Then, while the film itself was shot, I made - from Anna's theme, the chaconne, and the etudes - this concert work. While I scored the film just for the soloist and string orchestra (to emphasize the "stringness" of the picture), I subsequently composed a seventeen-minute concert work for violin and full orchestra, here available in a version for violin and piano.

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                     — John Corigliano

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