András Schiff

Beethoven: Diabelli-Variationen

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Beethoven: Diabelli-Variationen Review

by Blair Sanderson

ECM New Series is better known for its documentation of contemporary works, but the music of the past sometimes receives coverage when artists bring a new perspective to it. The Diabelli Variations, Op. 120; the Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111; and the Six Bagatelles, Op. 126, are among the most original and intellectually stimulating works Ludwig van Beethoven composed for the piano, and the sophisticated interpretations of András Schiff are especially worthwhile for their insights into authentic performance practice and reception. Here, Schiff gives the listener options between a relatively modern sounding version of the Diabelli Variations and a period interpretation, without favoring one or the other. On the first CD he plays the Sonata and the Diabelli Variations on a Bechstein piano from 1921, though with minimal pedaling and a restrained execution that allows every inner voice and subtle dynamic to be appreciated. While this piano is not as hard or bright sounding as a modern Steinway, it is familiar to modern ears and most listeners will readily accept it. On the second CD, Schiff plays the Diabelli Variations, along with the Six Bagatelles, on a smaller sounding Franz Brodmann fortepiano, an original instrument from around 1820, Beethoven's time period. While it sometimes sounds tinnier, the fortepiano is in wonderful condition, and by Schiff's own testimony, it "sounds fresher, bolder, and infinitely more subtle." This side-by-side demonstration allows comparisons between the two instruments, and to consider other differences. One need not choose one recording over the other, but Schiff's exceptional performances would certainly inform such a decision, if one had to be made.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Sonate No. 32 in c-Moll, Op. 111
1 András Schiff 08:54 Amazon
2 András Schiff 17:30 Amazon
Diabelli-Variationen, Op. 120
3 András Schiff 00:45 Amazon
4 András Schiff 01:38 Amazon
5 András Schiff 00:48 Amazon
6 András Schiff 01:20 Amazon
7 András Schiff 00:59 Amazon
8 András Schiff 00:58 Amazon
9 András Schiff 01:35 Amazon
10 András Schiff 01:08 Amazon
11 András Schiff 01:28 Amazon
12 András Schiff 01:52 Amazon
13 András Schiff 00:41 Amazon
14 András Schiff 01:09 Amazon
15 András Schiff 01:00 Amazon
16 András Schiff 01:11 Amazon
17 András Schiff 03:34 Amazon
18 András Schiff 00:37 Amazon
19 András Schiff 01:02 Amazon
20 András Schiff 01:03 Amazon
21 András Schiff 01:35 Amazon
22 András Schiff 00:58 Amazon
23 András Schiff 01:43 Amazon
24 András Schiff 01:09 Amazon
25 András Schiff 00:38 Amazon
26 András Schiff 00:55 Amazon
27 András Schiff 02:32 Amazon
28 András Schiff 00:52 Amazon
29 András Schiff 01:28 Amazon
30 András Schiff 01:01 Amazon
31 András Schiff 01:05 Amazon
32 András Schiff 01:09 Amazon
33 András Schiff 01:46 Amazon
34 András Schiff 04:31 Amazon
35 András Schiff 02:53 Amazon
36 András Schiff 04:12 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Diabelli-Variationen, Op. 120
1 András Schiff 00:48 Amazon
2 András Schiff 01:39 Amazon
3 András Schiff 00:54 Amazon
4 András Schiff 01:25 Amazon
5 András Schiff 01:01 Amazon
6 András Schiff 00:59 Amazon
7 András Schiff 01:40 Amazon
8 András Schiff 01:13 Amazon
9 András Schiff 01:31 Amazon
10 András Schiff 01:56 Amazon
11 András Schiff 00:44 Amazon
12 András Schiff 01:07 Amazon
13 András Schiff 01:05 Amazon
14 András Schiff 01:12 Amazon
15 András Schiff 03:31 Amazon
16 András Schiff 00:39 Amazon
17 András Schiff 01:02 Amazon
18 András Schiff 01:09 Amazon
19 András Schiff 01:40 Amazon
20 András Schiff 00:59 Amazon
21 András Schiff 01:49 Amazon
22 András Schiff 01:10 Amazon
23 András Schiff 00:43 Amazon
24 András Schiff 00:58 Amazon
25 András Schiff 02:34 Amazon
26 András Schiff 00:53 Amazon
27 András Schiff 01:29 Amazon
28 András Schiff 01:04 Amazon
29 András Schiff 01:12 Amazon
30 András Schiff 01:11 Amazon
31 András Schiff 01:57 Amazon
32 András Schiff 04:30 Amazon
33 András Schiff 03:01 Amazon
34 András Schiff 04:17 Amazon
Sechs Bagatellen, Op. 126
35 András Schiff 02:54 Amazon
36 András Schiff 02:56 Amazon
37 András Schiff 02:23 Amazon
38 András Schiff 03:44 Amazon
39 András Schiff 02:16 Amazon
40 András Schiff 04:01 Amazon
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