Help me identify this Rachmaninov/Paganini piece...

I believe I heard one of Rachmaninov’s rhapsody variations on a theme by Paganini (opus 43) on the radio, but I’m having a hard time pinpointing which one it is (there is an opening and 24 variations). I’m not even sure if this is what I’m looking for; I remember the radio DJ mentioning both Rachmaninov and Paganini together, and Rach’s op. 43 is the only thing I could find that matches…

I’m afraid all I can describe of the piece is that it was dominated by piano, was pretty fast and had a lush (as opposed to sparse) sound, and was one of the beautiful pieces I’ve ever heard. Not much to go on, but I’ve managed to track down a couple of short samples of the variations, and the piano parts have been a lot less dominant than what I heard. Still, I’ve only managed to find samples for 3-4 variations out of 24, so there’s a lot of uncovered ground, especially considering that it might not even be Rach op. 43…

And I don’t really want to buy the CD so much as the sheet music for the piano part, and I have a feeling I’m going to have to order it specifically. Anyone have a clue as to what piece I might have heard?

There are midi files for all 24 variations at the bottom of this page.

It’s the 24th Caprice for solo violin…also used by Brahms and Lutoslawski, and IIRC several others.

ack, misread the OP, ignore me

I realized after I posted that the midis on that page don’t work for me. If they don’t for you, either, there are also midis for all 24 variations at the bottom of this page. Be warned, though…they aren’t very good. Whoever sequenced them didn’t pay enough attention to the instrument patches. They sound VERY electronic.

Oh, and of course, check out Variation 18 first. For one thing, it’s the longest one. For another, it’s the one that’s best known and therefore most likely to be given airtime.

I’m not sure what it is you’re actually asking for, Windwalker, it sounds like you already know the piece name, composer, and even opus number. It’s unlikely you heard only one variation, though I wouldn’t put it past some commercial classical stations to only play part of a 22-minute piece.

Sergei Rachmaninoff, “Rhapsodie on a Theme of Paganini for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 43”. The “theme” that has been improvised upon is Niccolo Paganini’s 24th Caprice for solo violin. The most famous variation of which is the 18th, used (among other places) in the movie Groundhog Day.

I did a little searching and came up with a few hits for the sheet music. The closest to the original is the 2-piano arrangement, intended for a soloist to practice without an orchestra. Any more information required?