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The Russian Air with Twenty Variations for Cello Solo, accompanied by a Second Cello, Op. 32, by J. J. F. Dotzauer (1783—1860), was composed and published around 1815. It is one of the many set of variations written upon the theme “Їхав козак за Дунай” (“The Cossack rode beyond the Danube”) during the second decade of the XIX century, others including those by Beethoven and Hummel.
Despite the title, the theme is of Ukrainian origin but, at the time of its diffusion in Europe, under a German disguise, the region that is now Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire. The language of the text makes its origin unmistakable today.
After a fascinating slow Introduction, the theme comes and is followed by twenty variations, most of which requiring great virtuosity. This is a concert piece, lasting anywhere between 14 and 24 minutes according to whether repeats will be played or not. An outstanding variety of techniques is employed, making this a true challenge for even the most gifted players.
This edition is based on the oldest surviving source, the first edition by Friedrich Hofmeister. It corrects the most glaring mistakes, and adds notes where ambiguity arises.
This edition is dedicated to Yuriy Leonovich.
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