John O'Conor

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson

Ludwig van Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, Op. 120 was his greatest masterpiece for the piano, and its 33 variations on a simple waltz transcended the extraordinary keyboard works that preceded it, including his other sets of variations, bagatelles, and the 32 piano sonatas. Composed between 1819 and 1823, contemporaneously with the Missa Solemnis, it was published as the first volume of Anton Diabelli's Vaterländischer Künstlerverein. Diabelli had asked the leading composers of Europe to compose a single variation on his original theme, and he collected examples from Carl Czerny, Franz Schubert, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Ignaz Moscheles, a young Franz Liszt, Franz Xaver Mozart, and Archduke Rudolf of Austria, among many others, but Beethoven's monumental contribution exceeded them all. The Diabelli Variations are regarded as a summation of Beethoven's methods of composition, and it requires an experienced pianist to communicate its myriad connections to all that went before, perhaps most significantly to the late piano sonatas, which it most closely resembles in tone, breadth, inventiveness, spiritual depth, and emotional impact. John O'Conor's 2016 release for Steinway & Sons offers a spontaneous and fluid performance that ranges in expression from humorous and mercurial in the early variations, to profound and awe-inspiring from the midpoint on, and he displays a fine balance between vigorous virtuosity and sublime restraint. Steinway & Sons provide clean and crisp sound, so all the details and nuances in O'Conor's sensitive playing are easily heard. Highly recommended, especially for fans of this amazing piece.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Variations (33) for Piano on a Waltz by Diabelli in C major, Op. 120
1 John O'Conor 00:53 Amazon
2 John O'Conor 01:50 Amazon
3 John O'Conor 00:49 Amazon
4 John O'Conor 01:18 Amazon
5 John O'Conor 01:01 Amazon
6 John O'Conor 00:58 Amazon
7 John O'Conor 01:54 Amazon
8 John O'Conor 01:11 Amazon
9 John O'Conor 01:29 Amazon
10 John O'Conor 01:43 Amazon
11 John O'Conor 00:38 Amazon
12 John O'Conor 01:07 Amazon
13 John O'Conor 01:01 Amazon
14 John O'Conor 01:02 Amazon
15 John O'Conor 04:23 Amazon
16 John O'Conor 00:36 Amazon
17 John O'Conor 01:03 Amazon
18 John O'Conor 01:02 Amazon
19 John O'Conor 01:37 Amazon
20 John O'Conor 01:01 Amazon
21 John O'Conor 01:42 Amazon
22 John O'Conor 01:19 Amazon
23 John O'Conor 00:53 Amazon
24 John O'Conor 01:00 Amazon
25 John O'Conor 02:33 Amazon
26 John O'Conor 00:49 Amazon
27 John O'Conor 01:18 Amazon
28 John O'Conor 01:07 Amazon
29 John O'Conor 01:15 Amazon
30 John O'Conor 01:24 Amazon
31 John O'Conor 01:24 Amazon
32 John O'Conor 04:35 Amazon
33 John O'Conor 03:00 Amazon
34 John O'Conor 04:05 Amazon
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