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András Schiff/Beethoven, Ludwig van /Ludwig van Beethoven

András Schiff

Diabelli-Variationen

  • Type CD
  • Label ECM New Series
  • UPC 0028948104468
  • Catalog number ECM 4810446
  • Release date 25 September 2013

About the album

András Schiff has followed up his prize-winning complete set of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas for ECM with a recording of the Diabelli Variations that is remarkable in many ways.

First, this Hungarian pianist combines the colossal variations with two other major late works from Beethoven's pianistic oeuvre: the Sonata op. 111 and the Bagatelles op. 126 (the former having concluded of course his traversal of the complete Sonatas for ECM). This new recording impressively draws attention to these works’ intrinsic ties to the Diabelli Variations. The Arietta theme in op. 111 and Diabelli's waltz are both set in C major in triple meter, and both begin with an upbeat. Still more striking are the identical intervals that define both themes: the descending 4th from C to G, and the descending 5th from D to G. Further, the bagatelles are far removed from what their title might seem to imply: they are Beethoven's final utterances on his preferred instrument. András Schiff has referred to them as aphorisms,as poetic as they are profound, and even calls the Fourth Bagatelle 'an almost demonic piece of astonishing modernity'.

But the recordings are remarkable for other reasons, too. Rather than using a modern Steinway, András Schiff has recorded them in two different versions on two period instruments. CD 1 (op. 111 and the Diabelli Variations) on an original Bechstein grand from 1921, the instrument preferred by Wilhelm Backhaus and Artur Schnabel, and one in which András Schiff sees an almost forgotten sound-ideal. CD 2 (a second reading of the Diabelli Variations and the op. 126 Bagatelles) is recorded on a Hammerflügel fortepiano from Beethoven's own day which, with its extraordinary extra pedals, reveals the full rich panoply of the composer's sonic universe. This gives listeners a unique opportunity to compare these highly contrasting sonic universes with their rich range of sound, so very different from the balanced, disengaged sound of a modern day instrument.

Finally, András Schiff has been able to consult Beethoven's previously unknown original manuscript of the variations for his recording. Thanks to his initiative and support, this manuscript has been preserved among the holdings of the Bonn Beethoven House since 2009. More than any other source, it sheds light on the compositional process, with Beethoven's penmanship and writing speed offering subtle hints as to crescendos, tempos and arcs of tension. Not only does this source provide insight into the composer's workshop, it also forms an invaluable bridge to Beethoven's intentions.

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    Sonata No. 32 c-minor op. 111 Maestoso – Allegro con brio ed appassionato
     
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    Sonata No. 32 c-minor op. 111 Arietta. Adagio molto et cantabile
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Thema. Vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. I Alla marcia maestoso
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. II Poco allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. III L’istesso tempo
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. IV Un poco più vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. V Allegro vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. VI Allegro ma non troppo e serioso
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.VII Un poco più allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. VIII Poco vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. IX Allegro pesante e risoluto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. X Presto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XI Allegretto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XII Un poco più moto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XIII Vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XIV Grave e maestoso
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XV Presto scherzando
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XVI Allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XVII
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XVIII Poco moderato
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XIX Presto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XX Andante
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXI Allegro con brio
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXII Allegro molto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXIII Allegro assai
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXIV Fughetta. Andante
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXV Allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXVI
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXVII Vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXVIII Allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXIX Adagio ma non troppo
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXX Andante, sempre cantabile
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXXI Largo molto, espressivo
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXXII Fuga. Allegro – Poco adagio
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXXIII Tempo di Menuetto moderato
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Thema. Vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. I Alla marcia maestoso
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. II Poco allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. III L’istesso tempo
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. IV Un poco più vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. V Allegro vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. VI Allegro ma non troppo e serioso
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.VII Un poco più allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. VIII Poco vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. IX Allegro pesante e risoluto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. X Presto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XI Allegretto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XII Un poco più moto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XIII Vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XIV Grave e maestoso
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XV Presto scherzando
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XVI Allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XVII
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XVIII Poco moderato
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XIX Presto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XX Andante
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXI Allegro con brio
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXII Allegro molto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXIII Allegro assai
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXIV Fughetta. Andante
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXV Allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXVI
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXVII Vivace
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var. XXVIII Allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXIX Adagio ma non troppo
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXX Andante, sempre cantabile
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXXI Largo molto, espressivo
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXXII Fuga. Allegro – Poco adagio
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Var.XXXIII Tempo di Menuetto moderato
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Andante con moto cantabile e compiacevole
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Allegro
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Andante cantabile e grazioso
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Presto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Quasi Allegretto
     
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    Diabelli-Variationen op. 120 Presto – Andante amabile e con moto
     

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