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The Music Room => Great Recordings and Reviews => Topic started by: Holden on March 29, 2008, 03:55:03 PM

Title: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Holden on March 29, 2008, 03:55:03 PM
This doesn't seem to have been done before apart from a thread by Dirk that, unfortunately, didn't go very far. Let's hope this one does better as while recordings of this work are numerous, good recordings are not.

To me, Op 120 is Beethoven's pianistic masterpiece. What he creates from a very simple little tune leaves him as the undeniable master of the variations genre. What's more, all his sets of variations seem to have a coherency about them that make them appear to be an integral work with a beginning, middle and end that seem connected and this is what makes 'great recordings' of Op 120 so hard to accomplish. Only a few pianists have got there yet it does have it's 'aiming' points that can make this happen. Variations 1, 15 and 25 are so grotesque that they can only be some sort of sarcastic caricature that LvB is making on the main theme. So you can divide OP 120 into three sections; Var 1-14, 15-24 and 25 - 33. The placing of the two fugues is no accident either and also help to give closure to sections.  From here, a pianist has to use a combination of variable tempos and LvBs 'Sturm und Drang' to bring each set 'back home' to Diabelli's original Waltz theme. As a listener, I always find that theme is in my mind no matter what variation is being played and coming back to it (after straying well away) gives me a satisfying feeling.

The other major requirement is how the opening theme is played. Tempo and inflection are very important as this will shape the pianists approach to the rest of the work. I've heard versions of this where the opening has either been too fast or slow and while the following Var I does sound grotesque it also sounds out of place.

I have recordings of this work by the following pianists

Brendel (VOX)
Ciani
Kovacevich
Richter (Prague)
Richter (Amsterdam)
Schnabel
Sokolov

I have also heard (but didn't acquire)
Arrau
Barenboim
Brendel #2
Andrzewski
Ugorski

I would like to hear
Rudolf Serkin
William Kinderman
Maria Yudina

The No Show's

Ugorski's is the worst recording of any piano piece I've ever heard. Barenboim is ponderous as opposed to inspired and the same goes for Sokolov (acquired as part of a 5 CD set). Brendel's version two for Philips, while good, doesn't match his VOX box version and Andrzewski does things with the music that are were never intended and don't work. I found that it lacked any form of coherence and I might as well have been listening to 34 different pieces. Richter in Prague, while very good is definitely outshone by his 1986 recording in the Concertegebouw.

The Contenders

Dino Ciani's version is very good and though I think he takes the theme too fast he manages to pull things back together after Var IV and from there on it is a very satisfying performance.

Artur Schnabel owns this work and he manages to keep the whole work flowing. I wonder what would have happened if hadn't decided to champion it. When you compare Op 120 to LvBs other works there aren't really that many recordings out there. BTW, does anyone know of a Diabelli discography site?

Steven Kovacevich is in the Schnabel mold and the advantage of modern stereo sound almost makes getting the Schnabel superfluous - almost!

Sviatoslav Richter's greatest asset as a musician for me was not his awesome technical skills but his ability to portray the 'big picture', looking past the main moments of a work to link all it's parts and bring it to a satisfying conclusion. This is what makes him such a great Beethoven interpreter and you can see this gift quite clearly in his recordings of Schubert's D894 and D960 sonatas plus the 'Wanderer'. Also consider his Schumann Op 17 - I could go on. So when he manages to pull of the impossible in this late recording and make it all sound linked I'm not surprised.

Pianists who didn't record it who I would have liked to have heard

Solomon - who better?
Sergio Fiorentino
Kempff (or has he?)
Gilels

The Tragedy is that I don't have a copy of what I believe is the most coherently conceived recording of this work - Claudio Arrau on Philips from the 1970s(?). Holidaying in NZ I spent 2 weeks with this CD (from Wellington Library) and fell in love with it. However, none of the stores there had a copy and there were no burning facilities where I was staying so I'm still without it despite looking around here in Australia.

I'd be interested to hear your opinions on recordings and approaches to the Diabellis. Feel free to agree or disagree with me.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: orbital on March 29, 2008, 05:49:36 PM

The Tragedy is that I don't have a copy of what I believe is the most coherently conceived recording of this work - Claudio Arrau on Philips from the 1970s(?).
Is that the recording that is included in the big Arrau Beethoven Philips box? If so, I have it and have not even listened to it I think  :-[
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Todd on March 29, 2008, 05:52:06 PM
When it comes to the Diabellis, I often prefer a more interventionist approach.  I can’t quite explain why, but when a pianist obviously tinkers around with the tempi (especially) and dynamics (less so), I often enjoy the results, though not always.  Perhaps that’s why unlike Holden I find Piotr Anderszewski very enjoyable.  Olli Mustonen is at least as interventionist, though he tends toward fast tempi and some repeat omissions, and I like him even more!  Geza Anda strips out every repeat, and brings the work in at under 40 minutes, but he infuses it with such energy and effective dynamic contrasts, that it’s hard not to appreciate it on its own terms.  Even Anton Kuerti, whose sonata cycle I’m not too wild about, delivers a superb, highly individual (ie, idiosyncratic) take.  

But of course a more “straight-forward” approach can yield enormous dividends.  Exhibit A here is Rudolf Serkin, whose recording is still probably my favorite.  Sure, the sound is dated and a pesky cricket plays along in the background, but Serkin’s unwavering drive and energy and total command of the work hits the spot.  I can easily see how some would find his take too austere or hard, but I love it.  Sviatoslav Richter’s 1986 Amsterdam recording manages to mix both individuality and directness in equal measure.  Should the at times lumbering tempi and playing work as well as they do?  No – but they do.  Similarly, Stephen Kovacevich’s lauded recording delivers the goods in a similar approach (more similar to Serkin, that is).  

Other fine performances include Brendel’s digital studio recording of the work (I haven’t heard the other two), Mieczyslaw Horszowski’s take, and Robert Silverman’s hard-hitting, unsentimental take.

Were I to group them into categories, the top tier would include Serkin, Mustonen, and Richter.  The next rung down would include Kuerti, Anderszewski, Kovacevich, Anda, and Brendel.  After that some good ones would be Arrau, Horszowski, and Silverman.  

Less compelling recordings for me (for various reasons) include Schnabel, Ashkenazy, Heisser, Perl, Pludermacher, Pollini (good, but somehow disappointing), and Yokoyama (not up to snuff).  I’ve never quite got into the Diabellis as much as the sonatas, but I’m slowly trying to rectify that.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Sean on March 29, 2008, 07:11:27 PM
This is a work I never bought a recording of and I got to know it from a taped recording I don't remember; I've heard a few great performances and the key thing I think is to get inside the work's extraordinary spirit of determination and ruthless triumph- it's a piece lending itself to masculine power and succeeds when the player finds an overall grip of the vast canvass. Along with Goldberg, and perhaps Strauss's Don Quixote it's the greatest set of variations.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Brian on March 29, 2008, 07:38:03 PM
Ugorski's is the worst recording of any piano piece I've ever heard.
Really now? Where can I find it? Since your piano recommendations are always so well-considered and often spot-on, I'd rather like to hear "the worst recording ever". Is it so bad I might derive a perverse pleasure from it, or ... is it just bad?

Along with Goldberg, and perhaps Strauss's Don Quixote it's the greatest set of variations.
Beethoven Op 111
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 29, 2008, 09:16:40 PM
When it comes to the Diabellis, I often prefer a more interventionist approach.  I can’t quite explain why, but when a pianist obviously tinkers around with the tempi (especially) and dynamics (less so), I often enjoy the results, though not always.  Perhaps that’s why unlike Holden I find Piotr Anderszewski very enjoyable.  Olli Mustonen is at least as interventionist, though he tends toward fast tempi and some repeat omissions, and I like him even more!  


Anderszewski is my favorite.  I find Mustonen's lean textures very interesting.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Wanderer on March 29, 2008, 10:48:29 PM
This thread reminds me, I've been wanting to acquire Demidenko's recording for quite a long time. Anyone here heard it? Reviews have been most favourable.

(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0743625401721.jpg)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Holden on March 30, 2008, 12:51:59 AM
Really now? Where can I find it? Since your piano recommendations are always so well-considered and often spot-on, I'd rather like to hear "the worst recording ever". Is it so bad I might derive a perverse pleasure from it, or ... is it just bad?
Beethoven Op 111

It's so bizarre that I wondered whether Ugorski had just escaped from a 'home for the bewildered'. Maybe I'm doing the man an injustice but it totally threw me.

Thanks also for the accolade - I didn't realise that my piano recommendations were well-considered so that's nice to hear. I try to think things out before I post but sometimes I just can't find the right language.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 30, 2008, 02:31:51 AM
Give me a fortepiano recording anyday!  Paul Komen comes to mind.  :)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Que on March 30, 2008, 03:30:07 AM
Give me a fortepiano recording anyday!  Paul Komen comes to mind.  :)

Same here!  ;D

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41ZJF0J89FL._SS400_.jpg)

A very succesful performance. Purchase here (http://www.weltklassisch.de/Musik-CD-bestellen.29.0.html) (with sample) or here (http://www.beethoven-haus-bonn.de/sixcms/detail.php?id=5627&template=ware_detail_shop_en&_mid=3582).

Other than that: fully agree with Holden on Artur Schnabel - legendary.

Q
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: The new erato on March 30, 2008, 06:20:38 AM
I try to think things out before I post

Wow. But I guess it had to happen sooner or later.

My Diabelli experiences are limited to Bishop-Kovacevich and Andrzewski; guess I'm attracted to convoluted names.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Todd on March 30, 2008, 06:37:59 AM
Really now? Where can I find it?



Arkiv has it as part of their ArkivCD program.  They also have his Op 111, which stretches out to almost 40 minutes.  Perhaps that hints at why Holden has a low opinion of Ugorski's Diabellis.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Brian on March 30, 2008, 07:18:50 AM


Arkiv has it as part of their ArkivCD program.  They also have his Op 111, which stretches out to almost 40 minutes.  Perhaps that hints at why Holden has a low opinion of Ugorski's Diabellis.
Oh dear! I always enjoy a little sampling of perverse music or downright awful film, but if the Op 111 runs to nearly 40 minutes ... methinks that the joke would get a little old after a while.  :P 
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: B_cereus on March 30, 2008, 05:50:32 PM
my vote unhesitatingly goes to Schnabel. His Diabelli was the best thing on his Philips Great Pianists edition.


Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 30, 2008, 06:38:01 PM
Don't give me a fortepiano anyday! (Unless the fortepianist shows the musicality of the great pianists of the past.) I really dislike the Anderzewski, which makes each variation sound like a miniature tone poem and loses the overall continuity in its mannered fussiness. Kindermann tries hard, but lacks either the technique or the imaginative abandon for the piece to take off; his plodding recording does not match the indispensable scholarly book he produced on the Diabellis. Yudina plows through the work like a Soviet tractor, banging mercilessly and unmusically, but her version is worth keeping as a party CD - that is if I ever throw a party.

Of the ones I know from records, a dark horse is Stefan Vladar's fresh and invigorating performance. Another one I will keep is Charles Rosen's. In fact, of the three live performances I have heard in the past ten years, Rosen's (at age 75 or so) was the one that best captured the work's comic elements; people in the audiencewere literally laughing at some of his tricks of phrasing. Pollini in live performance was magisterial, but humorless. Peter Serkin was just dull.

Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: val on March 31, 2008, 01:40:12 AM
I always preferred Brendel in this work. His first version for VOX was good, but the second (1970) for PHILIPS was the best. But I never found it on CD. The third version, also for PHILIPS is good but not as exceptional as the second.
One of the great qualities of Brendel's versions is that he gives a very coherent view of all the variations, with an ideal balance.

Serkin is much better in the last four or five variations, but his version sometimes seems almost didactic.

Bishop Kovacevitch would be my second choice, after Brendel.

Dino Ciani has moments of extraordinary inspiration but, as usual, doesn't seem to have a global perspective of the complete work.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: ragman1970 on March 31, 2008, 02:12:23 AM
This thread reminds me, I've been wanting to acquire Demidenko's recording for quite a long time. Anyone here heard it? Reviews have been most favourable.

(http://www.jpc.de/image/w600/front/0/0743625401721.jpg)

yes, and the one from sokolov!
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 03:43:04 AM
Don't give me a fortepiano anyday! (Unless the fortepianist shows the musicality of the great pianists of the past.)

Oh give me a fortepiano recording anyday!  And rest assured that Komen has more musicality to spare than your generic
"great pianist of the past"!  Those interested can check out Edmund Batterby's double (modern steinway vs. Graf fp) recording
on Naxos.  ;D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 03:54:02 AM
Oh give me a fortepiano recording anyday!  And rest assured that Komen has more musicality to spare than your generic
"great pianist of the past"!  Those interested can check out Edmund Batterby's double (modern steinway vs. Graf fp) recording
on Naxos.  ;D

Your comment does nothing to "rest me assured." And to call pianists like Schnabel, Serkin, Rosen, and who knows how many others "generic," only makes me think you're being a dogmatic HIPster who is more interested in the hardware than the interpretation.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 05:35:29 AM
Oh give me a fortepiano recording anyday!  And rest assured that Komen has more musicality to spare than your generic
"great pianist of the past"!  Those interested can check out Edmund Batterby's double (modern steinway vs. Graf fp) recording
on Naxos.  ;D

I've never warmed to Batterby's performances.  Changing the instrument is okay - the problem is the pianist.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 07:01:27 AM
I've never warmed to Batterby's performances.  Changing the instrument is okay - the problem is the pianist.

Sometimes the problem can be faulty reception.  :D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 07:18:51 AM
to call pianists like Schnabel, Serkin, Rosen, and who knows how many others "generic,"

I like Schnabel, but others are quite "generic" to these ears!   That goes to answer your "interpretation/hardware" (a false dichotomy if there is ever one)  question also.  :D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 07:20:04 AM
Sometimes the problem can be faulty reception.  :D

How long have you had this problem?
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 07:20:27 AM
Performing Beethoven and Haydn on period instruments and tinkly fortepianos is so…yesterday.


While listening to classical music is so...last century and before?  :D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 07:21:19 AM
How long have you had this problem?

The question is for you, my friend.  ;)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 07:25:43 AM
The question is for you, my friend.  ;)

Given your ridiculous comment about generic-sounding pianists, the question is in your court.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 07:26:56 AM
Given your ridiculous comment about generic-sounding pianists, the question is in your court.

Well I don't find it ridiculous, so why should the question be in my court?  0:)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (: premont :) on March 31, 2008, 07:36:01 AM
Performing Beethoven and Haydn on period instruments and tinkly fortepianos is so…yesterday.

I see no reason why we - of all ages - should glorify our own.

The next step might happen to be, that the music of yesterday is so.. old fashioned.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 07:40:45 AM
Well I don't find it ridiculous, so why should the question be in my court?  0:)

Because it is ridiculous, whether you recognize as much or not. The posts above have shown quite clearly that among modern pianists who have recorded the Diabellis, there is considerable distinction in the playing styles of such artists as Schnabel, Pollini, Mustonen, Anderszewski, Rosen, the Serkins, et al.

It is somewhat reassuring to hear you like Schnabel, but while of course the interpretation/hardware question is a false dichotomy, your signature and other comments here (Oh give me a fortepiano recording anyday!") lead me to believe you are firmly in the HIP camp above all - while I and probably some others here are not as dogmatically bound to either modern or HIP performance as you seem to be.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 07:46:27 AM
I see no reason why we - of all ages - should glorify our own.

The next step might happen to be, that the music of yesterday is so.. old fashioned.

The next step beyond that might be to perform Shakespeare only in outdoor replicas of the Globe Theatre, with boy actors in the female roles, standing room for the "groundlings" in the middle of the pit, Elizabethan costumes, and Elizabethan accents (which supposedly sound more than anything like the Appalachian speech of the southeastern USA). After all, if we insist on HIP Beethoven, why not HIP Shakespeare? Surely the sole goal of interpretation should be to reproduce the conditions and practices of the past.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (: premont :) on March 31, 2008, 08:03:36 AM
The next step beyond that might be to perform Shakespeare only in outdoor replicas of the Globe Theatre, with boy actors in the female roles, standing room for the "groundlings" in the middle of the pit, Elizabethan costumes, and Elizabethan accents (which supposedly sound more than anything like the Appalachian speech of the southeastern USA). After all, if we insist on HIP Beethoven, why not HIP Shakespeare? Surely the sole goal of interpretation should be to reproduce the conditions and practices of the past.

In principle you are right, but I would ask for a reasonable balance. I think you have to distinguish between the musically important measures (choice of instrument, style of playing) and the musically unimportant measures. I would e.g. never ask anyone to wear a wig when playing Händel, just for the sake of authenticity, since wigs have got no musical importance at all.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 08:08:36 AM
Well I don't find it ridiculous, so why should the question be in my court?  0:)

If there's a basic complaint about early 20th century pianists, it's that they were overly individualistic.  You seem to be clueless about this.

Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 08:09:18 AM
In principle you are right, but I would ask for a reasonable balance. I think you have to distinguish between the musically important measures (choice of instrument, style of playing) and the musically unimportant measures. I would e.g. never ask anyone to wear a wig when playing Händel, just for the sake of authenticity, since wigs have got no musical importance at all.

Some folks here go for hyperbole regularly - I wouldn't care so much about what they say.  ;)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 08:15:45 AM
In principle you are right, but I would ask for a reasonable balance. I think you have to distinguish between the musically important measures (choice of instrument, style of playing) and the musically unimportant measures. I would e.g. never ask anyone to wear a wig when playing Händel, just for the sake of authenticity, since wigs have got no musical importance at all.

But what is musically important (or dramatically important, as in the case of Shakespeare) may be subject to interpretation. Let's say for argument's sake, that the voice is an instrument. Would, for example, the use of boys in soprano/alto roles in Bach, as well as boys for female roles in Shakespeare, be obligatory in your view? (I leave out the question of whether castrati should be obligatory in Handelian opera. But if we're truly going to be HIP . . . .  :D) Would you reject an inspired reading of Lady Macbeth by a great actress, or an inspired reading of the Diabellis by a modern pianist, on the grounds that the "choice of instrument" is a musically important factor?
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 08:16:16 AM
Some folks here go for hyperbole regularly - I wouldn't care so much about what they say.  ;)

Some do indeed. Case in point:
"HIP for all and all for HIP! Harpsichord for Bach, fortepiano for Beethoven and pianoforte for Brahms!"
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: MN Dave on March 31, 2008, 08:17:11 AM
If there's a basic complaint about early 20th century pianists, it's that they were overly individualistic.  You seem to be clueless about this.

No complaints here. :)

And I own Arrau and Sokolov. Should give those a listen sometime soon.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 08:19:18 AM
Some do indeed. Case in point:
"HIP for all and all for HIP! Harpsichord for Bach, fortepiano for Beethoven and pianoforte for Brahms!"

Sorry if you think so, but what you think may be hyperbole!  :D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 08:22:20 AM
I'm sorry to see that the argument is tending toward fortepiano vs. modern piano.  It's the performance that counts, not the instrument. 
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: MN Dave on March 31, 2008, 08:22:45 AM
Sorry if you think so, but what you think may be hyperbole!  :D

I never discuss religion, politics or HIP. ;)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 08:25:04 AM
I'm sorry to see that the argument is tending toward fortepiano vs. modern piano.  It's the performance that counts, not the instrument. 

Well the instrument does count for me -- and I imagine for someone like Malcolm Bilson or Robert Levin as well, who have written extensively about the musical benefits of using fortepianos.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 08:28:49 AM
I never discuss religion, politics or HIP. ;)

I discuss HIP with rational people.  ;D

(Ditto religion and politics.)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 08:30:02 AM
Well the instrument does count for me -- and I imagine for someone like Malcolm Bilson and Robert Levin as well, who wrote extensively about the benefits of using fortepianos.

You're no Bilson or Levin.  I'm very confident they greatly enjoy exceptional performances on the modern piano.  You likely will also as your musical insight deepens over the years.  In the meantime, try to keep an open mind on the subject.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 08:31:51 AM
You're no Bilson or Levin.  I'm very confident they greatly enjoy exceptional performances on the modern piano.  You likely will also as your musical insight deepens over the years.  In the meantime, try to keep an open mind on the subject.

I am not Bilson or Levin and so instrument shouldn't matter to me?  I am not sure who needs to keep an open mind here.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 08:37:28 AM
I am not Bilson or Levin and so instrument shouldn't matter to me?  I am not sure who needs to keep an open mind here.

Could be that you're not one of the brighter bulbs on the block, but I'd wager that your problem is just lack of maturity.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 08:39:05 AM
Could be that you're not one of the brighter bulbs on the block, but I'd wager that your problem is just lack of maturity.

Don't wager anything, I am not interested in your bets.  :D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 08:58:28 AM
Don't wager anything, I am not interested in your bets.  :D

Don't you want to help me improve my financial situation?  After all, you did refer to me as your friend.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (: premont :) on March 31, 2008, 08:59:40 AM
But what is musically important (or dramatically important, as in the case of Shakespeare) may be subject to interpretation. Let's say for argument's sake, that the voice is an instrument. Would, for example, the use of boys in soprano/alto roles in Bach, as well as boys for female roles in Shakespeare, be obligatory in your view?

In priciple: Yes.

In practice: Not so sure.

Would you reject an inspired reading of Lady Macbeth by a great actress, or an inspired reading of the Diabellis by a modern pianist, on the grounds that the "choice of instrument" is a musically important factor?

I am not a HIP fanatic. Opposed to many modern-instrument fanatics, who completely reject period practice (have a look at the other forum) , I do not reject modern instrument practice, - as Don writes above: It is the performance that counts. So if I want to hear Backhaus play Beethoven, I have to accept the instrument he is using. But generally I find, - if we forget about the performer for a short moment, that peroiod instruments suit the music better than modern instruments. Not surprising since the music was written with period instruments in mind.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 09:23:10 AM
But generally I find, - if we forget about the performer for a short moment, that peroiod instruments suit the music better than modern instruments. Not surprising since the music was written with period instruments in mind.


And that's a perfectly reasonable attitude.  I prefer Bach on harpsichord, but that doesn't exclude my loving the performances of Gould, Gulda, Tureck, etc.

The Batterby Diabelli disc is a good example.  He delivers a generic performance on the modern piano - ditto when he plays the work on the fortepiano.  Batterby is Batterby no matter what type of instrument he employs.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 09:54:48 AM
And that's a perfectly reasonable attitude.  I prefer Bach on harpsichord, but that doesn't exclude my loving the performances of Gould, Gulda, Tureck, etc.

I would agree.

The Batterby Diabelli disc is a good example.  He delivers a generic performance on the modern piano - ditto when he plays the work on the fortepiano.  Batterby is Batterby no matter what type of instrument he employs.

Then, to make a Melvillean pun, I would prefer not to listen to Batterby.

Premont says:
Quote
But generally I find, - if we forget about the performer for a short moment, that peroiod instruments suit the music better than modern instruments. Not surprising since the music was written with period instruments in mind.

The range of the fortepiano was expanded during the last years of Beethoven's life, allowing for the extremes we see in a sonata like op. 111. In earlier works (e.g. the op. 10/3 sonata, the first concerto), Beethoven writes melodic lines that plainly demand the F# a semitone above the top note of his piano at the time. If a fortepiano is being used with the expanded range needed for 111, should we or should we not substitute the F# in the earlier cases?
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: BorisG on March 31, 2008, 09:59:14 AM
I dislike the work, so I have an easy decision. ;)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 10:00:12 AM


Then, to make a Melvillean pun, I would prefer not to listen to Batterby.



I prefer to listen to Paul Komen than to Battersby, both on a Graf fortepiano.  ;D

(OK, Komen uses LvB's own instrument, while Battersby uses only a good copy.)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 10:04:09 AM
I prefer to listen to Paul Komen than to Battersby, both on a Graf fortepiano.  ;D

This is something we agree on.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 10:04:44 AM
I dislike the work, so I have an easy decision. ;)

Will Uri Caine (also using a Graf fortepiano) change your mind?  ;D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: PerfectWagnerite on March 31, 2008, 10:05:17 AM
The range of the fortepiano was expanded during the last years of Beethoven's life, allowing for the extremes we see in a sonata like op. 111. In earlier works (e.g. the op. 10/3 sonata, the first concerto), Beethoven writes melodic lines that plainly demand the F# a semitone above the top note of his piano at the time. If a fortepiano is being used with the expanded range needed for 111, should we or should we not substitute the F# in the earlier cases?
Don't quite a number of performers substitute the F# or in some cases the low E which is also not available in some of the earlier pianos ?
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 10:06:46 AM
This is something we agree on.

Is this due to your maturity or my maturity?   ;)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 10:09:01 AM
Don't quite a number of performers substitute the F# or in some cases the low E which is also not available in some of the earlier pianos ?

This was a historically authentic performance practice but not part of HIP!  (Not sure the distinction is understood by all.)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on March 31, 2008, 10:09:32 AM
Is this due to your maturity or my maturity?   ;)

Likely just coincidence.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 10:10:34 AM
Likely just coincidence.

I don't want to wager anything, so no comment  :D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 10:29:25 AM
This was a historically authentic performance practice but not part of HIP!  (Not sure the distinction is understood by all.)

As what you are saying sounds like, "A is the initial letter of the alphabet but not the first letter," please expound.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 10:32:03 AM
Don't quite a number of performers substitute the F# or in some cases the low E which is also not available in some of the earlier pianos ?

I would think anyone would who has a grain of common sense.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: rickardg on March 31, 2008, 11:25:26 AM
Trying to recreate the uncertainties of the past is tricky & we have tools today that are far superior in design and sonic/dynamic/color capability, and genius performers who shone NEW light-on and breathed NEW life-into the music, making it so exciting and vibrant for audiences today.

(http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/09/b4/d19c225b9da0ce1145d6f010.L.jpg) (http://www.wendycarlos.com/+sob.html)
(Pic is link, I haven't heard this for years and then only very briefly)

Of course some would claim that a Moog is a historical instrument.  ;D

Edit: fixed broken image (hopefully)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Brian on March 31, 2008, 12:03:24 PM
It is fascinating to hear Paul Komen play on period instruments because the period instruments yield very different-sounding works than the Beethoven with which we're familiar (my favorite example being the Arietta of Op 111 - revelatory) - BUT his performances are aided by the fact that Paul Komen happens to be a truly exceptional performer in his own right.

And by the way, it's Battersby.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Que on March 31, 2008, 12:09:22 PM
It is fascinating to hear Paul Komen play on period instruments because the period instruments yield very different-sounding works than the Beethoven with which we're familiar (my favorite example being the Arietta of Op 111 - revelatory) - BUT his performances are aided by the fact that Paul Komen happens to be a truly exceptional performer in his own right.

Brian, thanks for pointing that out, and I wholeheartedly agree! :)
It would be a great pity indeed, if our fellow members got a different impression just on account of his recording being HIP or being advocated by HIPsters...

EDIT: reposted a sample below.

Q
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: MN Dave on March 31, 2008, 12:11:53 PM
I don't even check if something is HIP or not.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (: premont :) on March 31, 2008, 12:25:58 PM
The range of the fortepiano was expanded during the last years of Beethoven's life, allowing for the extremes we see in a sonata like op. 111. In earlier works (e.g. the op. 10/3 sonata, the first concerto), Beethoven writes melodic lines that plainly demand the F# a semitone above the top note of his piano at the time. If a fortepiano is being used with the expanded range needed for 111, should we or should we not substitute the F# in the earlier cases?

In my opinon we should substitute. It would be ridiculous to regard the adherence to the original score as a cardinal point in this question.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (: premont :) on March 31, 2008, 12:32:30 PM
Trying to recreate the uncertainties of the past is tricky & we have tools today that are far superior in design and sonic/dynamic/color capability, and genius performers who shone NEW light-on and breathed NEW life-into the music, making it so exciting and vibrant for audiences today. There is room for both but can you imagine if there was never any evolution and the music was still performed exactly as it was then, today? Ugh. Thank goodness for the variety!

It is tempting to say, that the music in question actually bores you, even if you certainly wouldn´t admit this. Why else should you need variety of the kind you suggest?
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Peregrine on March 31, 2008, 01:08:20 PM
I own Richter, Sokolov, Demidenko, Mustonen, Schnabel and Pollini.

I really couldn't pick a clear favourite out of those, they all communicate to me in some way.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: BorisG on March 31, 2008, 01:40:57 PM
I own Richter, Sokolov, Demidenko, Mustonen, Schnabel and Pollini.

I really couldn't pick a clear favourite out of those, they all communicate to me in some way.

 ;D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 02:08:16 PM
Brian, thanks for pointing that out, and I wholeheartedly agree! :)
It would be a great pity indeed, if our fellow members got a different impression just on account of his recording being HIP or being advocated by HIPsters...

BTW, everybody interested is welcome to download this sample: Diabelli Variations - thema & var. 1-7 (http://www.mediafire.com/?4xdyp2nhyxm) (320 kbps)

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B000935U76.03._SCLZZZZZZZ_V44167576_AA240_.jpg)

Q

Thank you for doing this. Unfortunately, the file name is so long that the extension is truncated, and I can't play it. Can you try again?
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: edward on March 31, 2008, 02:31:45 PM
Thank you for doing this. Unfortunately, the file name is so long that the extension is truncated, and I can't play it. Can you try again?
You should be able to get around this by renaming it to something ending in .mp3
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 04:38:42 PM
You should be able to get around this by renaming it to something ending in .mp3

That was my first thought as well, but Windows doesn't like that and claims .mp3 is not the file format being used.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 05:58:20 PM
That was my first thought as well, but Windows doesn't like that and claims .mp3 is not the file format being used.

Something is accursed in your system... ;D
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on March 31, 2008, 06:13:52 PM
I don't even check if something is HIP or not.

Ah, but I happen to be interested in the matter of performing styles.


Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 31, 2008, 06:20:53 PM
Something is accursed in your system... ;D

Big help, you are.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Lethevich on March 31, 2008, 08:37:01 PM
Sforzando - won't play for me either, so I don't think it's an mp3 (or ogg). The implication is that it's probably Apple's format (aac or something or other), but as I have no interest in downloading or ever using iTunes, I can't confirm.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Que on March 31, 2008, 09:30:53 PM
Sforzando - won't play for me either, so I don't think it's an mp3 (or ogg). The implication is that it's probably Apple's format (aac or something or other), but as I have no interest in downloading or ever using iTunes, I can't confirm.

Yes Lethe, indeed it was AAC. My apologies for the (initial) dissapointment. :)

Hope this is better! (MP3 this time)

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B000935U76.03._SCLZZZZZZZ_V44167576_AA240_.jpg)
[mp3=200,20,0,left]http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/11/4/1562799/01%2033%20Veranderungen%20uber%20einen%20Walzer%20von%20Anton%20Diabelli%20op.120.mp3[/mp3]
Theme and the first seven variations, about 9 minutes.

Q
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Lethevich on March 31, 2008, 10:43:04 PM
Que - very kind of you :)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Que on April 01, 2008, 01:53:33 PM
Que - very kind of you :)

Pleasure, would like to hear your (and anyone else's) impressions. :)

Q
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Don on April 01, 2008, 02:10:53 PM
Pleasure, would like to hear your (and anyone else's) impressions. :)

Q

I enjoyed it - very upbeat as should be.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on April 02, 2008, 01:21:48 AM
On a related note, Peter Serkin's 1980s recordings of LvB last sonatas (nos. 28-32) played on an original Graf fortepiano are now re-released on CD.  The Hammerklavier is outstanding, superior to his own remake on a modern piano even.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Que on April 14, 2008, 09:34:23 PM
I enjoyed it - very upbeat as should be.

Thanks for your comment, Don.

I'm "plugging" the sample once more for those who missed it:  8)

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B000935U76.03._SCLZZZZZZZ_V44167576_AA240_.jpg)
[mp3=200,20,0,left]http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/11/4/1562799/01%2033%20Veranderungen%20uber%20einen%20Walzer%20von%20Anton%20Diabelli%20op.120.mp3[/mp3]
Theme and the first seven variations, about 9 minutes.

Dutch pianist Paul Komen on a Conrad Graf fortepiano.

Q
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: FideLeo on April 15, 2008, 01:34:00 AM

(http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/P/B000935U76.03._SCLZZZZZZZ_V44167576_AA240_.jpg)
[mp3=200,20,0,left]http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/11/4/1562799/01%2033%20Veranderungen%20uber%20einen%20Walzer%20von%20Anton%20Diabelli%20op.120.mp3[/mp3]

Dutch pianist Paul Komen on a Conrad Graf fortepiano.

Q

Currently the recording is a bit hard to get - except from French online vendors or from Beethoven-Haus itself.  There was once talk of Komen completing his Beethoven cycle.  Well it has been just talk so far.  ::)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on January 08, 2012, 09:07:23 AM
It is tempting to say, that the music in question actually bores you, even if you certainly wouldn´t admit this. Why else should you need variety of the kind you suggest?

LOL. You're deep.

Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: ccar on January 08, 2012, 05:06:29 PM

For years I listened to many interpretations of the Diabelli variations with unease.  Apart from Schnabel, Serkin and some Richter, I really couldn’t feel touched by most of the readings I knew.


                                      (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/418EKRQ8PNL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41nWEQ8XbkL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)  (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41MB5EHVZ6L._SL500_AA300_.jpg) 


But I still remember my awe at my first listening of the Diabelli played by Yudina. With her interpretative genius she led me through each of these variations with a renewed sense of discovery - by the freshness of the phrasing, her creative choice of tempi and the almost improvisational but amazing rhythmic drive.

Nowadays there are a number of transfers of the Yudina/Diabelli to choose – from the ones I know I may prefer the Philips -GPOC edition.         


                                       (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41MAE9BTFCL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)      http://www.youtube.com/v/mJ0ofaeREuo


Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: PaulSC on March 31, 2012, 08:11:22 AM
Exciting times for lovers of Beethoven's piano music! Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Stewart Goodyear have Sonata cycles underway, and now Harmonia Mundi have announced a new recording of the Diabelli Variations by Andreas Staier (due in early May, performed on a fortepiano after Conrad Graf and filled out with some of the individual variations on the same theme by other composers of the time).

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PdreISenL._SS500_.jpg)

Meanwhile, Brautigam's Beethoven cycle continues to advance, but no sign of the Diabelli Variations as of yet…
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: North Star on March 31, 2012, 02:05:25 PM
and now Harmonia Mundi have announced a new recording of the Diabelli Variations by Andreas Staier (due in early May, performed on a fortepiano after Conrad Graf and filled out with some of the individual variations on the same theme by other composers of the time).

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PdreISenL._SS500_.jpg)

Meanwhile, Brautigam's Beethoven cycle continues to advance, but no sign of the Diabelli Variations as of yet…
That is interesting, thanks, Paul.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Leon on June 13, 2012, 05:20:33 AM
I'm bumping this thread because I am presently at the outset of a concerted effort at listening to as many recordings of this work as I can get my hands on.  Spotify has a dozen or more so that should keep me busy initially, but I am really interested in the PI recordings, Staier and Komen but also there are many older recordings I would like to hear.

I've not purposely avoided this work, but by the same token, somehow I have never focused on it either.

I plan to rectify that in the coming days ... or weeks.

 :)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: mjwal on June 14, 2012, 11:16:56 AM
I don't know why I have hitherto missed this discussion. Anyway - I tend to agree with ccar and Mandryka on interpretations here - Schnabel, Serkin, Richter, Yudina, live Brendel - but would add (from memory, since it is somewhere else and I haven't listened to it for a long time) Gulda, which seems to have passed beneath everybody's radar on this thread. Very fast, drastic, one might say, more so even than the Amadeo/Brilliant sonatas. In August I intend to listen to this again. - I am most intrigued by your description of Pludermacher's performance, Mandryka - he is a pianist I have never (knowingly) listened to; I shall investigate.
PS. If you speak French there's an interesting comparison of various recordings of the Diabellis by a circle of critics here, including a consideration of the Pludermacher and the new Staier:
http://sites.radiofrance.fr/francemusique/em/jardin-critiques/emission.php?e_id=100000065&d_id=440000370&arch=1
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on April 08, 2013, 09:49:34 AM
Sometimes in life you come across a performance that's so wonderful that it makes you remember why you invest so much time listening to music.

Well I think Charles Rosen's op 120 is an example of such a performance.

This is close to being exactly what I want from The Diabelli Variations, a sense of being on a long difficult journey, a journey which proceeds by fits and starts, from the mundane to the sublime and ineffable and, in the final variation, to something humane.

Available here either to just listen to or to download, this has never been released on a CD

http://archive.org/details/Beethoven-DiabelliVariationsrosen
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on April 13, 2013, 09:39:06 AM
Having read this statement a bit closer I am surprised, that a well-educated Dutch organist can say this nonsense. The so called Dutch practice is not to play all notes unbound, but to group the notes in small unities or "cell´s", which can be played non-legato or strictly legato as well.  F.i. : in a group of three short notes played legato the first will seem to receive a small accent, even if this actually is impossible to do on an organ. But it feels so, it happens in our mind.  The "trick" is to be able to indicate the rhythm and distinguish between good and less good notes in this way. The first note under the bow also often receives a small agogoc accent (it is held a nanosec. too long) in order to support the impression of good note when wanted. The playing of Gustav Leonhardt among several others offers examples in abundance of this practice. Can Zwoferink be unaware of this? No, she can´t, and this is the reason why one has got to read her words with some reservation.

You're probably not interested in this, or don't have the time. But I think that Rosen articulated the Diabelli variations just like Leonhardt articulates Bach. Not necessarily the agogics, but he breaks up the music into small cells, and this gives the performance a unique spikey feel.

Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Geo Dude on April 17, 2013, 01:32:47 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51z79IYzrkL._SX300_.jpg)

I can't speak to the quality of the piano side of this recording (not interested), but the fortepiano disc is quite nice, and the price is hard to beat.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on April 17, 2013, 09:36:38 PM
Well if you're not going to listen to piano recordings then I think you're choice is pretty limited, and you're cutting off your nose to spite your face. The fortepiano doesn't contribute much important in this piece, does it?

Anyway, I've not heard Staier's. What's it like?
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Geo Dude on April 18, 2013, 08:03:52 AM
If it's a work I listen to on a regular basis and there are not many PI recordings available (or the PI recordings consist of unsatisfactory interpretations) then yes I'll listen to an MI recording here and there for variety.  I prefer the sound of a fortepiano, can't speak to what it adds other than that; we're not talking about harpsichord vs piano type differences, obviously.  f it's something that I pull out for the occasional listen like the Diabelli Variations then no, I don't feel like I'm doing myself any harm. :)

I too am curious about Staier's reading.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: San Antone on April 18, 2013, 08:26:00 AM
If it's a work I listen to on a regular basis and there are not many PI recordings available (or the PI recordings consist of unsatisfactory interpretations) then yes I'll listen to an MI recording here and there for variety.  I prefer the sound of a fortepiano, can't speak to what it adds other than that; we're not talking about harpsichord vs piano type differences, obviously.  f it's something that I pull out for the occasional listen like the Diabelli Variations then no, I don't feel like I'm doing myself any harm. :)

I too am curious about Staier's reading.

Gary Cooper has recorded the Diabellli Variations on fortepiano and I was listening to it this morning.  It is well worth hearing. 

Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on April 18, 2013, 10:59:31 AM
Anyone got any opinions about Sokolov's?


I know it's beautifully played and recorded. But somehow I can't get my head round why he's playing the music like that. Maybe I'm too tied to the idea of these variations as a quest, an arduous journey, something I picked up from Maynard Solomon's  book on late Beethoven. Maybe they mean something else to Sokolov. But without a clearer grasp of what he's seeing in the music I find the performance completely elusive.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Holden on April 18, 2013, 12:06:23 PM
Anyone got any opinions about Sokolov's?


I know it's beautifully played and recorded. But somehow I can't get my head round why he's playing the music like that. Maybe I'm too tied to the idea of these variations as a quest, an arduous journey, something I picked up from Maynard Solomon's  book on late Beethoven. Maybe they mean something else to Sokolov. But without a clearer grasp of what he's seeing in the music I find the performance completely elusive.

I usually like what Sokolov does with Beethoven but his Diabelliis are ho hum as far as I'm concerned. I can't put my finger on it but they just sound very middle of the road.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on April 18, 2013, 12:15:48 PM
I usually like what Sokolov does with Beethoven but his Diabelliis are ho hum as far as I'm concerned. I can't put my finger on it but they just sound very middle of the road.

And yet each individual variation is played extremely well and often with brave orginality. The problem is in the vision of the thing as a whole, I'm convinced of it. The whole seems much much less than the sum of the parts. i think I'm just missing his point.

Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Sammy on April 18, 2013, 12:55:09 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51z79IYzrkL._SX300_.jpg)

I can't speak to the quality of the piano side of this recording (not interested), but the fortepiano disc is quite nice, and the price is hard to beat.

As far as I'm concerned, neither the modern piano version nor the fortepiano version is interesting.  He plays both in a similar fashion - boring.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Jeffrey Smith on April 18, 2013, 06:41:23 PM
Well if you're not going to listen to piano recordings then I think you're choice is pretty limited, and you're cutting off your nose to spite your face. The fortepiano doesn't contribute much important in this piece, does it?

Anyway, I've not heard Staier's. What's it like?

In Staier's hands, the fortepiano contributes a whole bunch to the Diabellis.  Some of his playing is so individualistic that it might be called eccentric and/or idiosyncratic, but it's all well worth listening to.  (So is Cooper's, although the latter can't be called eccentric/idiosyncratic.)

Not that I adhere to the "arduous journey" view: to me the DVs are more a grand exercise of musical analysis and dissection, a master taking what might seem to be a humdrum line of music, putting it through its paces and showing the potentials for greatness.  The arduous journey fits well for the piano sonatas, the late quartets, etc.--but not everything Beethoven wrote fits under that category.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Brian on September 21, 2013, 08:22:59 PM
(http://www.arkivmusic.com/graphics/covers/non-muze2/large/1002843.jpg)

"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. 126 Bagatelles on CD 2) on a Hammerflugel fortepiano from Beethoven's own day.

"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."

Huh. I've never heard of the Hammerflugel workshop before.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Gordo on September 21, 2013, 09:43:03 PM
(http://www.arkivmusic.com/graphics/covers/non-muze2/large/1002843.jpg)
Huh. I've never heard of the Hammerflugel workshop before.
:D ;D :D

It's almost so famous like the harpsichord workshop Cembalo.  :)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on November 04, 2013, 02:33:06 AM
I just want to maintain a list of the performances I've listened to, and this seems like as good a place as any. I seem to be on a major DV journey at the moment. I'll just keep modifying the list

Top recordings

Leonard Shure (Epic)
Michael Oelbaum
Rosen
Kuerti
Sokolov
Pollini (live preferably)
Horszowski
Daria Rabotkina
Bernard Roberts
S Richter (Prague)
Mustonen
Nikolayeve 1979
Brendel 2001
Kovacevich (Onyx)
Hans Petermandl

Need to revisit to get my head round

Vieru
Arrau (2 recordings)
Cooper
Gulda (2 recordings)
Ciani
Katchen
R Serkin (live and.studio)
Pludermacher
Rangell
Sheppard
John Browning




Fine but not special for me

Schiff
Anderszewski
Lefébure
Frith
Lewis
Yudina
Ugorski



Don't much want to hear again

Schnabel
Backhaus
S Richter (1950s)
Komen
Afanassiev
Kinderman
Korstick
Richter-Haaser
Brendel 1977
Leonard Shure (audiofon)


Haven't heard and want to hear

Nikolayeva 1981
Koroliov
Kovacevich (Philips)
John Browning
Amadeus Webersinke
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Pat B on November 04, 2013, 10:18:18 AM
Has your opinion on Komen changed? You seemed fairly enthusiastic about it in the Beethoven in Period Performances thread (as did everybody else) but that's several years ago now.

I like it, though I haven't heard very many other recordings. Mustonen is available at my library so I'll be sure to check that out.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on November 04, 2013, 10:52:14 AM
Has your opinion on Komen changed? You seemed fairly enthusiastic about it in the Beethoven in Period Performances thread (as did everybody else) but that's several years ago now.

I like it, though I haven't heard very many other recordings. Mustonen is available at my library so I'll be sure to check that out.

I have indeed changed my mind about Komen.  I just don't notice anything really insightful or remarkable about it, and that makes me not want to hear it again. Maybe others have seen what I've missed.  When I made positive comments years ago I really wan't aware of what this music can be. And what I look for now is different from what impressed me then.

The Mustonen. I dithered about whether to mention that, because it's just so quirky and smart arse, iconoclastic almost. But I played it again a couple of times and I decided that the sheer liveliness and colourfulness was irresistable, it's like he's constantly making you prick up your ears, Even if his musical decisions are really sometimes his whims, I like to hear what he does. And for me, that's enough. I'm not saying it's deep or revealing or anything, I just enjoy it.  Generally I enjoy Mustonen, in Shostakovich and Scriabin for example.

As you can see the list is really personal and probably useless to anyone else, I made it for me really - I seem to be listening to so many of these things I need a way of keeping some sort of track.

Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Pat B on November 04, 2013, 12:54:45 PM
Thanks for the elaborations. Of course you're correct that any such list is personal, but I have enjoyed some of the things you endorsed. In the case of Mustonen it won't cost me anything other than the time to listen to it. :)

As an aside I have Kovacevich '68 on order.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Todd on September 06, 2014, 04:28:58 PM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/81t7lLY3tiL._SY425_.jpg)


Finished up a first go-round with Mr Goodyear's Diabelli's today.  The disc is in much better sound than his sonata cycle, with just the right perspective and clarity and weight.  Goodyear is not much of a colorist; instead he focuses clarity of voices, rhythm, and dynamics.  He also plays fast, often very fast, much of the time, though he does slow way down in variation 20, playing it more as an Adagio than Andante, and he offers maximum possible contrast by then playing variation 21 at super-human speed.  A most enjoyable recording.  I shall listen again soon, very soon.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on September 29, 2014, 09:15:22 AM
I'm going to put my own transfer of Hans Petermandl's very successful, very classical, Diabelli Varitions on symphonyshare. If you want it directly you can PM me. There is a poor commercial mp3 transfer but it is something to avoid like the plague because of the enormous pauses they put between each variation.

Petermandl is my big pianist discovery of the past couple of years, along with Peter Hill, who has also recorded these variations.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: bigshot on September 29, 2014, 10:34:11 PM
A faithful transfer of Schnabel for once...
http://www.vintageip.com/xfers/schnabeldiabellis.mp3
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on September 30, 2014, 09:26:35 PM
Sound quality apart, does anyone like Schnabel's Diabelli Variations? (I've never enjoyed it, it never seems to take off somehow.)
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Holden on September 30, 2014, 10:20:51 PM
Yes I do but it's nowhere near the top performance for me. A similar approach but far superior interpretation is by Kovacevich.

As I've said earlier in this thread the Philips Arrau is my favourite.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on October 01, 2014, 07:46:35 AM
Yes I do but it's nowhere near the top performance for me. A similar approach but far superior interpretation is by Kovacevich.


Kovacevich on Philips you mean?  I like both his later recordings.

One other very old one which I really should go back and reappraise is Backhaus's. Only yesterday I was listening him play op 110 and op 111 and I thought it was so quirky it was fascinating. It would be good to understand what Backhaus was up to in late Beethoven.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: torut on October 01, 2014, 08:49:19 AM
One other very old one which I really should go back and reappraise is Backhaus's. Only yesterday I was listening him play op 110 and op 111 and I thought it was so quirky it was fascinating. It would be good to understand what Backhaus was up to in late Beethoven.
Backhaus's recording of Op. 109 was the very first classical music I listened to with great interest. It may be dry and cold, but still it's my favorite Op. 109 recording.
However, his performance of Diabelli Variations (included in the piano concertos set with Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt conducting Wiener Philharmoniker) was not memorable to me. (The piano concertos were good.)
Yesterday I got Staier's recording of Diabelli Variations, and I liked it a lot. The fortepiano's sound is rich and the performance is vivid. The other composers' variations are also interesting, especially Listz's and Schubert's.
I'll re-listen to Backhaus's Diabelli.
Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: Mandryka on October 01, 2014, 01:30:15 PM
Yes, it's like materialist late Beethoven (Backhaus)

Title: Re: Diabelli Variations
Post by: bigshot on October 02, 2014, 02:13:46 PM
The unique thing about Schnabel is the tone he gets out of the notes, not the notes themselves. It isn't a technically perfect performance, but the variation in mood and tone is remarkable. If you listen carefully, each note seems to have a shape. I'm not sure how he achieved this, but the slightly distant recording acoustic flatters it. The only trick is getting all the surface noise out of the way so you can hear the shapes of the notes. Heavy handed noise reduction messes this up, so it's a fine line to tread.