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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations / András Schiff, piano

Album Summary

>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Sonata for Piano no 32 in C minor, Op. 111
>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Variations (33) for Piano on a Waltz by Diabelli in C major, Op. 120
>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Bagatelles (6) for piano, Op. 126
Performers Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Beethoven's Diabelli Variations are considered a magnum opus of the piano repertoire, a towering contribution to the genre and an entire Encyclopedia of pianism.

Following his monumental exploration of the 32 Sonatas, András Schiff has now recorded - on two period instruments - remarkable, contrasting versions of the Diabelli Variations alongside major late works with intrinsic ties to them. The Sonata Op. 111 and the Diabelli Variations (CD 1 ) are played on an original Bechstein grand from 1921, and the second reading of the Diabelli Variations , (paired with the op. 126Bagatelles on CD2) on a Hammerflügel fortepiano from Beethoven's own day. This gives listeners a unique opportunity to compare the rich range of these highly contrasting sonic universes, a world apart from modern day instruments.

In his liner note András Schiff acknowledges the value of having been able to consult the previously unknown original manuscript of the Variations which provided invaluable insight into Beethoven's compositional process and intentions.

The Guardian, 3rd October 2013
That performance revels in the very lack of homogeneity in the soundworld of the instrument itself, with its distinctly different character in each register...Balances and perspectives shift constantly within the music, and Schiff exploits the effects quite wonderfully...The whole world of the variations opens out.

Sunday Times, 6th October 2013
No pianist has a greater awareness of sound-colour than Andras Schiff...The Brodmann, despite its relative lack of power, offers the broader palette. The Bechstein projects with greater strength and a beguiling singing tone.

The Independent on Sunday, 27th October 2013
Something of a beauty contest is likely to ensue when the same work is played on two different instruments, and there is a surprising overall winner...[the Variations prove] more colourful and textural on the older instrument, with all its ticks, thuds and bell-like sweetness.

The Times, 1st November 2013
The differences are fascinating...Yet either piano's textures and reverberations would mean little without Schiff's artistry and intelligence...The Diabelli Variations have never seemed so playfully filled with irony, comic pratfalls and the wild goose chase. Whatever instrument he uses, Schiff rewards the closest listening.

BBC Music Magazine, Christmas Issue 2013
Schiff's passion for this music, and his ability to communicate it, is apparent in every bar...The two instruments he plays each have a lean tone and the interpretation of the Diabellis doesn't alter much. Played on the Bechstein, the work's close relationship to Op. 111...is obvious.

Gramophone Magazine, December 2013
I've been convinced of the success with which pianist and both instruments inhabit everything undertaken here. It's an impressive achievement.

Financial Times, 14th December 2013
A feast for piano connoisseurs - played with unflinching self-belief and wrapped in demonstration-quality sound.

American Record Guide, January/February 2014
A neat idea: a program that comprises Beethoven's final three piano works. It's made still neater by Schiff's choice of instrument, a 1921 Bechstein, for the sonata and variations. In the Diabellis, Schiff often takes moderate tempos with marvelous results. In the second performance on fortepiano it's a fine reading, and nice to hear slower tempos on a fortepiano. ECM's sound is, as always, superb.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano (07/2012/12/2012); Kammermusiksaal Beethoven-Haus, Bonn (07/2012/12/2012).



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Works Details

>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Sonata for Piano no 32 in C minor, Op. 111
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Notes: Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano (07/2012/12/2012); Kammermusiksaal Beethoven-Haus, Bonn (07/2012/12/2012)
  • Running Time: 26 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Written: 1821-1822

>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Variations (33) for Piano on a Waltz by Diabelli in C major, Op. 120
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Notes: Kammermusiksaal Beethoven-Haus, Bonn (07/2012/12/2012); Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano (07/2012/12/2012)
  • Running Time: 45 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Written: 1819

>Beethoven, Ludwig van : Bagatelles (6) for piano, Op. 126
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Fortepiano)
  • Notes: Kammermusiksaal Beethoven-Haus, Bonn (07/2012/12/2012); Auditorio Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano (07/2012/12/2012)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Written: 1823