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IDIOSYNCRACIES

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'... it offers some sublime moments.'

Anderszewski plays Beethoven -
by SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE

 

Piotr Anderszewski - Beethoven Diabelli Variations (p) 2001 Idéale/EMI/Virgin

If your introduction to Beethoven's Diabelli Variations is through this recording you might be forgiven for wondering why it has been called 'one of the key solo masterpieces in the canon of Western music'. On the whole the variations are a disparate collection, and Anderszewski's performance draws attention to the idiosyncratic elements of this elusive work.

Mind you, the original idea was pretty eccentric. In 1819, the composer Antonio Diabelli whipped up a little waltz and, as a publisher, proceeded to commission every composer in sight (including Schubert, the younger Mozart, a very young Liszt, Hummel, and Beethoven) to each write one variation to be published as a collection. Eventually Beethoven produced an unprecedented 33 published as his opus 120 by Diabelli in 1823.

Piotr Anderszewski is not unknown for dramatic gestures, and his playing personifies this. He walked out of the 1990 Leeds Piano Competition during his semi-final performance of Webern's Op 27 Variations because he wasn't satisfied with his performance when many people had him marked as the eventual winner.

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Copyright © 21 July 2001 Shirley Ratcliffe, Norfolk, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - VIRGIN 5 45468 2

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