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Monday, May 21, 2012

Andreas Staier, Beethoven, Diabelli Variations

The time length of a CD can allow for things that generally would not be done during the LP era. A good case in hand is Andreas Staier's recording of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations (Harmonia Mundi 902091). Staier not only tackles the full set of variations Beethoven penned, he begins with a selection of the variations submitted at the time by 50 other composers. So there is one by Schubert, one by Mozart's son, an eleven-year-old Liszt, Kreutzer, Kalkbrenner, etc.

This makes for fascinating listening and helps situate the 33 by Beethoven. Maestro Staier gives a properly discerning interpretation of the whole lot, played on an instrument that by the delicacy of its upper register must have been manufactured sometime in the 1800s.

Given the additional composers' variations this is a good version to have. Staier gives a vigorous, sensitive but not overwrought rendering that sounds quite right to my ears.

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