Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

Beethoven: Diabelli Variations

by Edmund Battersby
     
 

Unlike some musicians who specialize in performance on period instruments, there's nothing rigid or doctrinaire about Edmund Battersby's approach to Beethoven. On this release, the pianist -- and fortepianist -- goes so far as to offer two complete recordings of the Diabelli Variations, one on a modern Steinway, the other on aSee more details below

Overview

Unlike some musicians who specialize in performance on period instruments, there's nothing rigid or doctrinaire about Edmund Battersby's approach to Beethoven. On this release, the pianist -- and fortepianist -- goes so far as to offer two complete recordings of the Diabelli Variations, one on a modern Steinway, the other on a recently built replica of a 1825 Conrad Graf instrument, similar to one owned by Beethoven himself. Battersby's point -- amply made by his incisive playing as well as his instrument choices -- seems to be that we're under no obligation to choose one or the other, but rather that the two options can be mutually illuminating. And so they are, but with the twist that whichever version you're listening to at the moment seems to be the superior one: In the midst of the modern piano performance, it's hard to imagine giving up the instrument's boldness, dynamic range, and rich resonance, yet paradoxically, those features aren't much missed when the magically lighter and brighter sound of the period instrument is in the air. Since the Diabelli Variations can be rather enigmatic -- a massive and ultimately transcendent set of variations on a trivial little tune -- Battersby's twofold illumination of the work will not only help the listener appreciate its full stature but also the breadth of the performer's talents.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
Hats off, gentlemen, an original idea! American pianist Edmund Battersby has released not one but a pair of performances of Beethoven's "Diabelli Variations": one on a modern Steinway and the other on a replica of a Graf fortepiano. Why did he do it? According to the liner notes, "Battersby's original thesis was to prove that perhaps this great work was less abstract and more instrumental than originally perceived." What's the final effect? A pair of performances that are much more instrumental and far less abstract and very, very impressive. On either the modern Steinway or the Graf replica, Battersby is a wonderful player: brightly virtuosic and interpretively alert to the nuances of the music. On either instrument, Battersby's technique responds to each's specific qualities: the sustain of the modern Steinway or the articulation of the Graf replica, the depth of modern Steinway or the brilliance of the Graf replica. He is also anything but an abstract interpreter -- the intellectual approach of Brendel or Pollini is not for him. Instead, Battersby finds the humor and the tragedy, the sorrow and the joy, the wit and wisdom, in a word, the humanity of Beethoven's "Diabelli Variations." While this should not be the only recording of the work one ever hears -- the magisterial Schnabel, the magnificent Backhaus, the stupendous Richter, the monumental Serkin, and perhaps even the intellectual Brendel or Pollini performances are mandatory -- for listeners who already know and love the work, Battersby's original idea and deeply human performance will be thoroughly appealing. Naxos' sound is better than usual, rounder, warmer, and more detailed.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/16/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313238422
catalogNumber:
8557384-85
Rank:
326182

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Variations (32) on a waltz by Diabelli, for piano in C major ("Diabelli Variations"), Op. 120  - Ludwig van Beethoven  - Edmund Battersby  - Edmund Battersby

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