The aria Di tanti palpiti (“Of so many heartbeats”) was Giacchino Rossini’s first “hit single,” first appearing in his 1813 opera Tancredi: “Singable, memorable melodies became a sine qua non for successful composers, and everybody everywhere knew the best tunes. Di tanti palpiti set the standard. The catchy simplicity of the opening phrases hit the spot. There is also virtuosic coloratura, but that comes later; anybody could sing the tune. At least fifty different sheet-music editions appeared, and almost as many sets of variations for piano, harp, flute, clarinet, and every other instrument played by amateurs at home.” – Teatronuovo.org
“In the three variations, in the main theme, and in the introduction…each section has a heartbeat that keeps it alive,” say violinist Pierce Wang about the ultra-tricky Variations on “I Palpiti,” written as a show-off piece by Niccolò Paganini. The Variations are based on an aria from the 1813 opera Tancredi, which became a megahit for composer Gioachino Rossini. From his home in Fremont, CA, the 17-year old #VirtualHeifetz2020 violinist Pierce discovers the pulse in Paganini with the help of renowned Heifetz pianist Rohan De Silva. Collaborating remotely from New York, Rohan performs on an elegantly-decorated and beautifully-preserved vintage Steinway piano that somehow seems just right for the era of the music.
And if you want to check out just how tricky this piece is – take a look at this section-by-section breakdown!