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Anderszewski: Beethoven – Diabelli Variations (APE)

Anderszewski: Beethoven - Diabelli Variations (APE)
Anderszewski: Beethoven - Diabelli Variations (APE)

Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer: Piotr Anderszewski
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: EMI
Size: 183 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

01 Tema: Vivace
02 Variation 1: Alla marcia maestoso
03 Variation 2: Poco allegro
04 Variation 3: L’istesso tempo
05 Variation 4: Un poco piu vivace
06 Variation 5: Allegro vivace
07 Variation 6: Allegro, ma non troppo
08 Variation 7: Un poco piu allegro
09 Variation 8: Poco vivace
10 Variation 9: Allegro pesante e risoluto
11 Variation 10: Presto
12 Variation 11: Allegretto
13 Variation 12: Un poco piu mosso
14 Variation 13: Vivace
15 Variation 14: Grave e maestoso
16 Variation 15: Presto scherzando
17 Variation 16: Allegro
18 Variation 17: Allegro
19 Variation 18: Moderato
20 Variation 19: Presto
21 Variation 20: Andante
22 Variation 21: Allegro con brio
23 Variation 22: Molto allegro (alla ‘Notte e giorno faticar’ di Mozart)
24 Variation 23: Assai allegro
25 Variation 24: Fughetta. Andante
26 Variation 25: Allegro
27 Variation 26: Allegro
28 Variation 27: Vivace
29 Variation 28: Allegro
30 Variation 29: Adagio, ma non troppo
31 Variation 30: Andante, sempre cantabile
32 Variation 31: Largo, molto espressivo
33 Variation 32: Fuga. Allegro
34 Variation 33: Tempo di menuetto, moderato (ma non tirarsi dietro)

The best Diabelli set I have yet heard

Piotr Anderszewski’s presentation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations emphasizes the lyrical side of this big work, a good thing because it softens the Variations’ tendency towards the cerebral. Anderszewski has devoted great care to precisely balancing the voices and creating timbral effects. He also brings to bear the agility of his left hand, which is remarkable even for world class pianists. This recording is simply a great one, a combination of sensitivity and technical command that blends perfectly into the Variations.

The sensitivity of Anderszewski’s playing is well heard in the second variation, which can be presented in a variety of ways, from the aggressive to the mystical, depending on how the pianist treats the dynamics (piano), tempo (Poco allegro) and expression (‘leggiermente’ – lightly). Anderszewski plays it swiftly but lightly, in a way that brings out its link to similar passages in Beethoven’s late piano sonatas, works from about the same time as the Diabellis but ones that have a tendency towards the mystical and emotional that is mostly absent in the varation set.

This same lyricism and talent for timbral combinations marks the 11th Variation, a soft and simple ‘Allegretto’, with the recurrent triplets done with musicality, but also a high level of precision. Anderszewski taps into the boisterous aspect of the music when it comes up – the energy and technique he brings to the 17th variation intensifies its dramatic and pomp – but all-in-all, this version is on the softer and subtler side of the spectrum of Diabelli performances.

I strongly recommend this terrific performance. It is overall better than classic recordings from Julius Katchen or Artur Schnabel, or modern ones like the underrated but excellent release from Chilean pianist Alfredo Perl. Anderszewski’s approach blends better with the Diabelli’s style, which can be a bit dry and objective. The technical ability Anderszewski shows in this interpretation isn’t at all surprising based on what I’ve heard from his other studio work and shows him in peak form. The recording, dating from 2001, shows top-flight sound engineering, especially beneficial given Anderszewski’s interpretation. I highly recommended this recording. It is now my reference recording for this ambitious composition.

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