The piece is based on two pre-existing melodies: the famous theme from Nicolo Paganini’s 24th Caprice and the Dies Irae. These two themes are opposite. The Paganini theme cames from a 19th century virtuosic showpiece, devilish and secular, while Dies Irae originated from a medieval sacred chant and symbolises the judgement day...
The start is very energetic as theme itself. At start, we feel the happiness and the energy but then tempo starts to slow down as preparing us for the next theme. When the Dies Irae starts, unpredictable theme surprises us. The slowing tempo create a more dramatic effect on us. When listening to Paganini’s Caprice 24 I neither think about death nor the judgement day. On the contrary, its effect more like the opposite way. It is a really cheerful piece and no connection between religion at all. However, Dies Irae came from the time that people are really religious and church was very important. It suddenly leads us to think about all the sins we have and the day we’ve been judged for it.
I think it may be possible that composer tries to combine this two concept; life and death. The reason of that although Dies Irae is performed by piano, the orchestra continues to perform some motives from Paganini. In my opinion, it may be considered as composer tries to compare joy and belief. Piano and orchestra are in competition as piano suggested to live life with belief and orchestra tries to emphasize the joy of living life as it is.
There is a variation that the Paganini and Dies Irae themes joined together in the piano as stating that it is possible the combine these themes so it is possible to combine the two concept in our lives, as well. Sometimes orchestra starts the variation with starting of Dies Irae but then turns it into a soft melody. I assume that it means the judgement day doen’t have to be remembered with fear, it also can be remembered with soft music.
At the last time Dies Irae theme is used, it is heard in orchestra against the motif that the piano is playing. This time orchestra is too sharp and wanted to stands Dies Irae theme out. During the almost twenty minutes piano and orchestra compete with each other. There are parts piano is dominant with the theme Dies Irae and as we see at the end there parts that orchestra do. The use of theme achieve its purpose and catch me everytime and make me think about judgement day. Even after a long love theme, I may across the Dies Irae hidden in notes. Although I don’t know what composer thought while composing this piece, in my imagination, piano wins the competition and draw the line in the sand with the last two chords.