Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120 (33 Variations in C major on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli)

This page lists all recordings of Diabelli Variations, Op. 120 (33 Variations in C major on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli), by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) on CD, SACD, DVD & download (MP3 & FLAC). Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

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Beethoven - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 15

Beethoven - Complete Works for Solo Piano Volume 15


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

National Airs with Variations (6), Op. 105


Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)

In 1819 the Viennese music publisher and composer Anton Diabelli sent a short waltz to a long list of composers. These included Schubert, Hummel, a very young Franz Liszt and, as the most prominent composer of the time, naturally Beethoven. Diabelli was proposing to compile an anthology of variations on his own waltz, one from each composer. Beethoven responded in a characteristic manner: first there was nothing, and then there was nothing … and then, in 1823, there was an entire, and monumental, set of no less than thirty-three variations.

There are several possible reasons for this, one being that Beethoven felt that it was below his dignity to take part in a project of this nature. What is certain, however, is that he must have found Diabelli’s theme intriguing material to work with – and against: Beethoven often seems to poke fun at the waltz, starting already in the first variation by turning it into a pompous march. But like all truly great variation works the Diabelli Variations take in the high as well as the low, jokes as well as drama – or serenity, as in Variation 24, a Fughetta, clearly inspired by the Aria in Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

As the last large-scale piano work by Beethoven, the Diabelli Variations form a fitting close to Ronald Brautigam’s traversal of the complete solo piano music. Described in International Record Review as ‘a Beethoven player whose musical discernment is a constant source of wonderment’, Brautigam has through the course of this series performed works composed between 1783 and 1825, using four different fortepianos. On the present disc we hear a copy of a 4-stringed fortepiano by Conrad Graf from 1822 – similar to Beethoven’s own last instrument, which Graf supplied him with in 1826, a year before the composer’s death.

“Brautigam tops off his Beethoven cycle, Volume 15, with one of the greatest works of them all, the Diabelli Variations...Every lover of the Diabelli Variations ought to add a period performance to their collection. This one will do very well.” MusicWeb International, 13th April 2017

“It sounds splendid and allows both Brautigam's effortless legato and his rhythmic drive to shine. Even in the slight, late National Airs with Variations, there is a sense of boldly direct communication and utter conviction. The culmination to a remarkable achievement.” Classical Music, May 2017 *****

“The Diabelli Variations, one of the summits of the pianist’s repertoire altogether, is an appropriate way to bow out, and Brautigam gives an altogether fine performance…[the National Airs] are a welcome bonus, and Brautigam dispatches them brilliantly” BBC Music Magazine, June 2017 ****

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variation &. Reger: Telemann Variations

Beethoven: Diabelli Variation &. Reger: Telemann Variations


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Paul Baumgartner (piano)

Reger:

Variations and Fugue on a theme by Georg Philipp Telemann, Op. 134

Erik Then-Bergh (piano)


Nearly 65 years ago, when Swiss pianist Paul Baumgartner (1903–1976) and German pianist Erik Then-Bergh (1916–1982) paid separate visits to the Beethovensaal in Hanover, they each recorded a monumental set of variations – very possibly on the same Hamburg Steinway D – and in each case the resulting LP proved to be the only that either artist ever made for the Deutsche Grammophon label. In addition, since each elected to commemorate what might arguably be termed connoisseur literature, neither disc became a best seller by classical music standards, and in fact, both faded into obscurity fairly soon after they appeared. Thus, modern listeners may be especially grateful that – perhaps ironically – today’s advanced digital technology offers an unprecedented window into the past that enables these superb performances to re-emerge into the sunlight. While today, neither Baumgartner nor Then-Bergh is as well remembered today as their gifts should merit, perhaps the present release will help restore at least some of the recognition they deserve, for they were not simply brilliant virtuosos, but performers of far rarer gifts: as can easily be seen from the performances presented here, they were, first and foremost, both extraordinarily intelligent and sensitive musicians.

Both recordings are mastered from the original tapes, and the detailed notes are by the distinguished Stephen Siek, connoisseur, teacher and performer.

“Then-Bergh’s impressive dexterity, range of colour and imaginative flair are a constant wonder” MusicWeb International (Reger)

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Australian Eloquence - ELQ4825880

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$8.75

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120


Christian Leotta (piano)

Italian pianist Christian Leotta returns with Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. These variations were composed on a waltz written by composer Anton Diabelli, who instantly recognized “the novelty of their ideas, care in working-out, and beauty in the most artful of their transitions”.

Christian Leotta’s affinity for Beethoven's music has been unanimously recognized by critics, who praise 'his prodigious technique' (The WholeNote), and 'his capability of really seizing your attention at unexpected moments' (All Music Guide). Leotta has established a reputation as 'a pianist of the highest order: technician, musician and interpreter all at once' (La Presse).

Atma - ACD22485

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Für Elise (Bagatelle in A minor, WoO59)

Rondo a capriccio in G major, Op. 129 ‘Rage over a lost penny'

Variations (7) on 'God save the King', WoO 78

Variations (5) on 'Rule Britannia', WoO 79

Variations (6) in F major on a Swiss Song, WoO 64


“deeply probing, if not always fully engaged with the work's humour.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“Of its digital power no one can be in doubt. Brendel plays with trenchant control, with a truly animating left hand and an acute perception of the music’s rhythmic emphases. What it does somewhat lack — and this is surprising given the Brendel we know today — is a lack of humour.” MusicWeb International, January 2013

Alto - ALC1194

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$6.25

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Diabelli Variations

Diabelli Variations


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

plus:

Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli

Assmayer • Bocklet • Czapek • Czerny • Dreschler • Freystaedtler • Gänsbacher • Gelinek • Halm • Hoffmann • Horzalka • Huglmann • Hummel • Kalkbrenner • Kerzkowsky • Kreutzer • Lannoy • Leidesdorf • Liszt • Moscheles • W.A. Mozart (son) • Rieger • Roser • Schubert • Stadler • Szalay • Tomaschek (Tomášek) • Winkhler • Wittasek (Vitásek) • Worzischek (Voříšek)


Jörg Demus (fortepiano)

In 1819 the Viennese publisher Anton Diabelli asked ‘the most excellent composers and virtuosi of Vienna and the Austrian Empire’, to write a variation on a waltz theme he had composed. Beethoven was also asked, and although he at first refused, he did finally deliver a cycle of 33 variations as his own contribution to this strange competition. His set was published separately in 1823. The 50 variations by the other composers appeared a year later, under the collective title of ‘National Society of Artists, Part 2’. From these, Jörg Demus chooses 32, basing his decisions both on the quality of the pieces themselves, and the playing-time of an LP, on which the recording first appeared. Played on various fortepianos of the time, this marks this unique recording’s first release on CD.

“Demus's 1971 account of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations is solid if rather didactic.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2012 ***

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4803303

(CD - 2 discs)

$12.00

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Stephen Kovacevich plays Beethoven's Diabelli Variations

Stephen Kovacevich plays Beethoven's Diabelli Variations


Bach, J S:

Partita No. 4 in D major, BWV828

Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120


Very special release indeed, the return after more than 40 years to the piece that first brought him worldwide fame – Stephen Kovacevich in Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations.

In the 90s Stephen recorded the complete Beethoven Sonatas for EMI for the first time, and the set is one of the standard recommendations. Yet something was missing and this recording completes the cycle, which for Kovacevich has become a true life-cycle, having given his sensational Wigmore Hall debut with this piece in 1961 and recording it in a still-classic version for Philips in 1968.

His conception has changed – it has a more live quality (despite being a studio recording) and more dramatic - quite simply it’s picks you up and sweeps you along irresistibly to the very end. Some of the most profound Beethoven playing ever put on disc!

As a generous bonus comes his first ever Bach recording, a concert favourite of his, Bach’s Partita no 4 which provides a wonderful palate-cleanser after the emotional rollercoaster of the Diabelli!

“It's certainly faster than his own earlier recording. But more important is the sense that Kovacevich has now encompassed the extremes of the work more fully. His understanding of Beethoven's juxtapositions of beauty and crudity, reflection and action, and the sheer dynamic range, are fully exposed in this new version, which captures the piano sound beautifully. A disc to treasure.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2009

“Kovacevich brings penetrating insight and a thrilling physical involvement. From the outset there is a driving momentum and crispness of articulation, and the bristling energy of so many variations makes the slower ones stand out in compelling relief, without needing especially slow tempos... one of the most impressive things about this new recording is the powerful feeling of live music-making. It is alive and spontaneous, and the overall physical and emotional sweep here is exciting and enormously fulfilling.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2009 *****

“[The Diabellis are] custom built for Kovacevich. Nothing this artist does is less than compelling” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Awards 2009

Editor's Choice

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2009

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2010

Instrumental Finalist

Onyx - ONYX4035

(CD)

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120


Building a Library

Second Choice - March 2000

Presto CD

Philips - 4262322

(Presto CD)

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Beethoven: Diabelli Varitaions

Beethoven: Diabelli Varitaions


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Mozart:

Adagio in C major, K356


Naoyuki Inoue (piano)

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Camerata - 4538182689516

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120


John Browning (piano)

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RCA - G0100036894145

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120


Muriel Chemin (piano)

Beethoven's Diabelli Variations represent one of the greatest works for solo piano ever to be written. Throughout this monumental work, Beethoven dazzles us with his ability to make Diabelli's theme become anything he wants it to be.

Diabelli's waltz has often been dismissed as rather primitive, even by Beethoven himself. The theme is, therefore, a wonderful example of the irrelevance of where a great composer's musical material comes from, and the corresponding importance of how the composer manipulates and develops that material. Just as composers of the Renaissance could build profound Mass settings from trivial secular tunes, so Beethoven develops a vast musical edifice from an apparently unlikely source.

For award-winning pianist Muriel Chemin, these variations are really "transformations" and, alongside Beethoven's sonatas, have become an integral part of her repertoire. She is considered one of the most convincing and original interpreters of Beethoven and Mozart, described by Hebdo National as: "Simply one of the best interpreters of Beethoven in the world."

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Odradek Records - ODRCD349

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