Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations


Gramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2012

Building a Library

First Choice - June 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - August 2012

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013

Instrumental Finalist

Catalogue No:




Release date:

8th May 2012




67 minutes


CD (download also available)
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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations


Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Diabelli Variations by Czerny, Hummel, Kalkbrenner, Kerzkowsky, Kreutzer, Liszt, Moscheles, Pixis, Mozart, Schubert & Beethoven

Andreas Staier (fortepiano after Conrad Graf)



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As is his custom, Andreas Staier has gone back to the original manuscript of one of the most famous sets of variations in history: Beethoven’s 'Diabelli Variations'. He has not however, restricted his work to recording the magnum opus, since the CD begins with a selection of variations written by some of the other 50 composers Diabelli asked to take part in his project. Here you can discover the very first stirrings of Liszt’s virtuosity (aged 11), the music of Mozart’s son, the unexpected variations of Kreutzer and Kalkbrenner, and the 'Diabelli Variation' of a certain Franz Schubert. A thrilling musical investigation with Andreas Staier's own 'Introduction'.

"My intention with the Introduction was to create a sound-space that separates the twelve ‘preludes’, from Czerny to Schubert, from Beethoven’s great cycle. It’s a pause for breath in what is otherwise rigorously composed music. So I think the improvisatory element is perfectly appropriate here. And that way one can ensure that Diabelli’s waltz has the necessary freshness the second time it’s played. I keep to the essence of what can be made out from Beethoven’s sketch of 1819, and stay close to the theme. The striking three-note motif with the combination of the intervals of a semitone and a rising third suggests an echo of the finale from the Piano Sonata in D major op.10 no.3. But I didn’t develop the interval of the descending fourth in the sketch because it’s so clearly presented by Beethoven himself in the very first variation...

This fascinating manuscript allows us to infer Beethoven’s choleric and impatient sides, but not the ironic side to his character. The annotations show his worries and difficulties during a pretty laborious process of composition. What began as a fair copy increasingly turns into a working manuscript. With the dynamics of the handwriting and the many corrections and erasures, it provides a whole range of pointers to the composer’s intentions. It’s a treasure trove for the interpreter." Andreas Staier

Diabelli Anton: Aus: "50 Veränderungen über einen Walzer von Anton Diabelli" (Wien, 1824)

I. Thema

II. Var. IV



V. Var. XX

VI. Var. XXI






Ludwig van Beethoven: "Introduction"


Ludwig van Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op.120

I. Thema. Vivace

II. Var. I. Alla Marcia maestoso

III. Var. II. Poco allegro

IV. Var. III. L'istesso tempo

V. Var. IV. Un poco più vivace

VI. Var. V. Allegro vivace

VII. Var. VI. Allegro ma non troppo e serioso

VIII. Var. VII. Un poco più allegro

IX. Var. VIII. Poco vivace

X. Var. IX. Allegro pesante e risoluto

XI. Var. X. Presto

XII. Var. XI. Allegretto

XIII. Var. XII. Un poco più moto

XIV. Var. XIII. Vivace

XV. Var. XIV. Grave e maestoso

XVI. Var. XV. Presto scherzando

XVII. Var. XVI. Allegro


XIX. Var. XVIII. Poco moderato

XX. Var. XIX. Presto

XXI. Var. XX. Andante

XXII. Var. XXI. Allegro con brio - Meno allegro

XXIII. Var. XXII. Allegro molto

XXIV. Var. XXIII. Allegro assai

XXV. Var. XXIV - Fughetta. Andante

XXVI. Var. XXV. Allegro


XXVIII. Var. XXVII. Vivace

XXIX. Var. XXVIII. Allegro

XXX. Var. XXIX. Adagio ma non troppo

XXXI. Var. XXX. Andante, sempre cantabile

XXXII. Var. XXXI. Largo molto, espressivo

XXXIII. Var. XXXII - Fuga. Allegro - Poco adagio

XXXIV. Var. XXXIII. Tempo di Menuetto moderato

The Independent on Sunday

29th April 2012


“Staier's fortepiano is deliciously transparent, his musicianship revelatory.”

The Telegraph

3rd May 2012

“Every now and then a CD comes along which paints a familiar piece in completely new colours. This one. The pianist Andreas Staier achieves this partly by playing on a copy of an early19th-century fortepiano...But the really interesting colours are the one Staier makes himself...the CD is a triumph of musical intelligence and sensitivity, which, despite its learning, sounds completely free and natural.”

The Guardian

16th May 2012

“It's safe to predict that very few people who hear this extraordinary performance...will have heard one quite like it before...his performance is about much more than special effects. Staier's variations of touch and tone and the nuances of his pedalling would be remarkable on a modern concert grand, let alone such an early instrument, while he is always alert to the ways in which he can articulate and alter the pacing”

Sunday Times

27th May 2012

“Staier finds unexpected colours in this most mercurial, witty and enigmatic of the late piano works. Anybody accustomed to the “plinky-plonk” sound of period instruments in modern...will be astonished at the spectrum of timbres Staier conjures from this fortepiano...A piano disc for the ages.”

International Record Review

June 2012

“His interpretative approach scarcely needs describing: relatively straightforward in delivery, technically impeccable, making light of the inherent unevenness of the instruments...An outstanding achievement...which certainly whets the appetite for more Beethoven to come.”

Gramophone Magazine

August 2012

“Staier's perfectly judged tempi, angular demeanour, characterful contrasts, biting accents and cumulative sweep add up to a performance that abounds with probing details yet never loses sight of the music's grand design...This is far away the most stimulating and best-played fortepiano Diabelli Variations on compact disc.”

BBC Music Magazine

August 2012


“The endlessly ear-opening consequences are riveting; the wide-ranging aplomb of Beethoven's Variations could have been conceived with Staier's musical curiosity and flair in mind...This isn't just an indisputably great performance on fortepiano; it's a great performance full stop. Given Staier's virtuosity and insight, what price Hammerklavier next?”

MusicWeb International

24th September 2012

“the most infectiously joyous recording I have of the Diabellis. At times, Staier's performance makes me almost want to get up and dance … delicious, rich sound … Staier’s performance is lively, aggressive and full of joy. It is a delight to hear him play this work … this is a great recording of a great work, and one that any lover of Beethoven's piano works should get.”

Record Review

18th June 2017

“He’s a pianist of endless imagination, who captures brilliantly both the darkness and the light of these extraordinary variations. Paradoxically, his period instrument makes this music sound even more startling, even more modern”

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