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 ****

“Brautigam goes to the heart of these variations: No 22 is fun but, crucially, not flippant. He manages to project the immensity of Beethoven’s structure while honouring the parts, no small achievement. Most crucially, the fugue (Variation 32) has a remarkable climax (equivalent in power to Pollini’s on DG). The coupling is inspired.” International Piano, July 2017 *****

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BIS Ronald Brautigam Beethoven - BIS1943

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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)

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4825880

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120


Igor Levit (piano)

Levit is particularly at ease with the piano works of Beethoven. He is currently performing a Beethoven cycle at the Wigmore Hall where he is performing all Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas over 8 concerts. The Diabelli Variations form part of Beethoven’s later output and is recorded here by Levit; “Not since Andreas Staier’s version on fortepiano for Harmonia Mundi has there been such a riveting dissection of Beethoven’s amused quirkiness” (BBC Music Magazine).

“Levit's Diabelli Variations brim with exuberance, vitality and often humour, tumbling into one another with unstoppable energy but with such lightning-like shifts of character that the overall experience is exhilarating and exhausting.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 16th October 2016

“[A] sense of freshness and discovery runs through his Diabelli Variations...one of the most impressive aspects of the performance as a whole is how Levit holds the different aspects of this massive work in balance.” The Guardian, 14th October 2015 *****

“He characterises [the Diabellis] with rambunctious glee, brilliantly incisive and as nimble as a cat on a high wire, while keeping the music’s overall arch in sight...One imagines Beethoven playing it like this — in his dreams, anyway.” The Times, 4th December 2015 *****

Sony - 88875140152

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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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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)

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

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


Andreas Staier (fortepiano after Conrad Graf)

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

“Staier's fortepiano is deliciously transparent, his musicianship revelatory.” The Independent on Sunday, 29th April 2012 *****

“Every now and then a CD comes along which paints a familiar piece in completely new colours. This recording...is 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 Telegraph, 3rd 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” The Guardian, 16th 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.” Sunday Times, 27th May 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.” International Record Review, June 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.” Gramophone 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?” BBC Music Magazine, August 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.” MusicWeb International, 24th September 2012

“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” Record Review, 18th June 2017

GGramophone 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

Harmonia Mundi - HMC902091

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Sviatoslav Richter in the 1950s, Vol. 7

Sviatoslav Richter in the 1950s, Vol. 7


Beethoven:

Rondo in C major, Op. 51 No. 1

Rondo in G major, Op. 51 No. 2

Eroica Variations, Op. 35

Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 'March Funebre'

Bagatelle in F, Op. 33 No. 3

Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Variations (6) for Piano on an Original Theme in F major, Op. 34

Variations (6) on an original theme 'Die Ruinen von Athen', Op. 76


Parnassus's ongoing documentation of the little-known early period of Sviatoslav Richter's career continues with a monumental, mostly unpublished Beethoven recital from 1951. While there are well-known recordings of Richter playing the "Diabelli" Variations from 1971 and 1986, this is the earliest documented performance of him playing the music. Of the material in this concert, only the "Diabelli" Variations have ever been published before. The remaining material from this concert has never been published in any form.

Parnassus Sviatoslav Richter in the 1950s - PACD96046/7

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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

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120


Filippo Gorini (piano)

Supporting new talents is in Alpha’s DNA. Here is the very first recording of the Italian pianist Filippo Gorini, who was recently awarded First Prize in the Telekom-Beethoven Competition in Bonn. He has also won the same competition’s Audience Prize twice over.

At just twenty years of age, he has already played in such prestigious venues as the Berlin Konzerthaus, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, the Herkulessaal in Munich, the Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Die Glocke in Bremen, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Moscow Conservatory. Strongly supported by Alfred Brendel, with whom he studies, he has chosen to tackle a monument of the piano repertory, the Diabelli Variations, a work whose interpretation he has matured through frequent performance, notably at the Beethoven Competition where it was the key item in his winning programme. And, appropriately, it is at the Beethovenhaus in Bonn that he made this first disc, the start of a highly promising recording career.

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Alpha - ALPHA296

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Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120 & 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120 & 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126


Beethoven:

Diabelli Variations, Op. 120

Bagatelles (6), Op. 126


Giovanni Mazzocchin (piano)

The 33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120, commonly known as the Diabelli Variations, is a set of variations for the piano written between 1819 and 1823 by Ludwig van Beethoven on a waltz composed by Anton Diabelli. It is often considered to be one of the greatest sets of variations for keyboard along with J. S. Bach's Goldberg Variations. Ludwig van Beethoven's Bagatelles, Op. 126, dedicated to his brother Johann van Beethoven, were published late in his career, in the year 1825. They were his final work for piano. Giovanni Mazzocchin (OC145CSET Ludwig van Beethoven: Late Piano Sonatas, Op. 101, 106 'Hammer-Klavier', 109-111; OC17042b Johann Sebastian Bach: The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988) a very young pianist with a natural talent and great expressive maturity, is the new promise of the OnClassical label. The recording is here available as 176,4 kHz * 24-bits, recorded w/ 3 Sennheiser mics. and a Steinway piano chosen at the time by the legendary pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.

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OnClassical - OC17072c

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