Today I was practicing one of my favorite pieces by Sergey Rachmaninov – Variations on a Theme by Corelli, Op. 42 – and it occurred to me that Variation VII would make a great finger warm-up. The hands mostly play 16th notes in unison, with the pinkie of the right hand getting a particularly vigorous workout.
In addition, the texture is rich with implied counterpoint reminiscent of Bach. The first 16th note of each beat is accented to show its thematic designation but Rachmaninov provides equally interesting lines in the succession of the third 16th notes of each beat and even the repeating second and fourth notes. These different melodic currents give this variation an especially vibrant character.
As you can hear on the video, I am presenting this at medium tempo yet, as with all warm-ups and exercises, it’s best to start out slowly and build up speed gradually.