In 1984 the distinguished Czech guitarist Vladimir Mikulka proposed that there should be a three-way collaboration between Stepan Rak (Czech), Nikita Koshkin (Russian) and John Duarte (English). Each would send a different theme to each of the other two in order to generate six new sets of variations. This was not only a very substantial project, it was unique in the known history of music. There had been a few instances, in which two composers had written works based on one another’s music, but in no case had they exchanged themes for the express purpose; never, so far as we knew, had three composers ever been involved in any kind of mutual action. If and when completed, their plan would create a new record! It was, it did, and this recording is likewise unique! As John Duarte has commented:

"Five people have played key roles in this project - Vladimir Mikulka for suggesting it, the three composers for writing the music, and Stein-Erik Olsen for bringing it to audible life."
(John Duarte)

"In this unique program and thrilling performance Stein-Erik Olsen encompasses this huge cycle of six vast compositions. These variations grew and sealed friendships among the three composers. Bravo!"
(Vladimir Mikulka, after the world premiere of the variations at the Cesky Krumlov International Music Festival.)

PROGRAMME

John Duarte: Variations sur un théme de Stepan Rak
  • Thema
  • 1) con moto
  • 2) Andanta Nikitoso
  • 3) Sherzoso
  • 4) Lento con tenerezze
  • 5) Alla gavotta
  • 6) Finale
Nikita Koshkin OIME-Rhapsody on a théme of J.W. Duarte
  • Tema Tempo di Siciliana
  • 1) Presto
  • 2) Lento
  • 3) Moderato con moto
  • 4) Piu mosso (non Troppo)
  • 5) Tempo di preludia no.3. di H.Villa-Lobos
  • 6) Allegro grazioso
  • 7) Estatico
  • 8) Presto
  • 9) Andante
  • 10) Tranquillo
Stepan Rak Variazioni su un tema di Nikita Koshkin
  • 1) Vivace molto
  • 2) Marcato Rabioso
  • 3) Lento
  • 4) Tempo di Minuetto
  • 5) Lento Cantabile
  • 6) Marcia
Interval
John Duarte Variations on an Andante of Nikita Koshkin
  • Theme Andante
  • 1) Poco Scherzoso
  • 2) Marche funebre
  • 3) Valse
  • 4) Fantasia
  • 5) Bagatelle
  • 6) Arietta
  • 7) Finale
Stepan Rak
  • Variations on a théme by John Duarte
  • Theme Largo Sostenuto
  • 1) Con Moto
  • 2) Lento
  • 3) Lento e Acceler molto con moto
  • 4) Maestoso
  • 5) Presto
Nikita Koshkin Porcelain Tower - Variations on the théme by Stepan Rak
  • Tema - Lento maestoso
  • 1) Yellow paper dragon
  • 2) Bamboo Umbrella
  • 3) Sphere within Sphere
  • 4) Red Liro gliphe’s Dance
  • 5) Nocturne silk screen
  • 6) Fox where wolf
  • 7) Porcelain emperor

The composers about Stein-Erik Olsen:

"Stein-Erik Olsen belongs to the elite group of guitarists who can be called not only guitarist but also musicians. His mastery is based on the flawless technique which serves deep and impressive musicality and clear sense of beauty. His skill is like the electricity which appears between the music and the listener. The playing of Stein Erik Olsen is always artistic and he is absolutely convincing in Bach, romantic music or avant-garde. His personal charm warms his playing and brings the friendly atmosphere to each of his recitals." (Nikita Koshkin)

"It is a real delight to a composer when his music takes on a life of its own. I am very pleased that Stein-Erik Olsen has given a new soul to my compositions. Yet I am still more glad that he realized that the Variations are not a lone piece, but that they are a brick in the wall built by the three individual composers. I feel satisfied that all six sets of variations can now finally live together, united by one brilliant musician." (Stepan Rak)

"Merely to learn these six difficult works, let along well enough to play them as a whole concert program and to record them is a considerable technical achievement; to do it - as Stein-Erik Olsen has done, in accord with the composers’ intention is no less than remarkable." (John W. Duarte)