Beethoven Diabelli Variations

By Timbrell, Charles | The Beethoven Journal, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Beethoven Diabelli Variations


Timbrell, Charles, The Beethoven Journal


Beethoven Diabelli Variations. Andreas Staier on a reproduction of a fortepiano after Conrad Graf. Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, Opus 1 20 (51:00); Ten Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli by various other contemporary composers ( 1 2:00). Recorded in September 2010 at Teldex Studio, Berlin. ©2012. Harmonio Mundi HMC 902091 .$ 19.61. ****

This exceptional recording by Andreas Staicr, one of today's leading harpsichordists and fortepianists, is real cause for rejoicing. Not only is his performance of the Diabclli Variations riveting, musical, and brilliant, but the disc is also his first solo Beethoven recording. This in an amazing fact, considering that his extensive discography includes major keyboard works by J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Clemcnti, Dussek, Field, Schubert, and Schumann. I can only hope that this recording will usher in many more Beethoven ones from him.

Staier begins his disc with ten of the single variations that were elicited from fifty composers by the Viennese publisher and composer Anton Diabelli, who supplied the animated theme. As Michael Ladenburger reminds us in the disc's excellent booklet, these composers were chosen by Diabelli "to provide a kaleidoscope of the compositional and pianistic talents and the multiplicity of personal styles then to be found in Vienna and the Austrian Monarchy." Beethoven declined to be part of Diabelli s project, but in 1823 he published his own monumental set of thirty-three variations on the theme, his penultimate work for the fortepiano. DiabeHi's publication, issued the year after Beethovens, included such now-forgotten composers as Carl Maria von Bocldet, Franz Jakob Freystädtler, Johann Huglmann, Joseph Panny, and Franz Schoberlcchner. But it also included Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, lgna.cz Moscheles, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and Friedrich Kalkbrennen whose variations arc the most interesting of the ones played by Staier. (Readers who would like to hear more of these miscellaneous variations might want to explore Jörg Demus's recently re-issued 1971 recording, which includes thirty-two of them, on Eloquence 480 3303).

Staier s instrument is identified only as a "fortepiano after Conrad Graf." Possibly it is the same "fortepiano Christopher Clarke, 1996, after Conrad Graf, Vienna, 1827" that Staicr used for his recording of Schuberts Sonata in G Major and Four Impromptus, Opus 142 (Harmonia Mundi HMC902021, issued in 2008). …

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