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I've been working on these and several other sets of early Beethoven Variations. This is a 1st draft recording - I'd like to make another with improvements, so any constructive criticism is appreciated. Tempos, dynamics, rhythms, anything that stands out as needing attention.Thanks!

24 Variations on a theme by Righini, WoO 65


Mark Dierauf, RPT
NH Pianos
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Hi what software did you use to make that piano recording very nice piano sound was it ivory grand pianos

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or is it a recording of a real piano also nice playing I enjoyed

Last edited by pianojohnw; 03/10/12 10:34 AM.
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Thank you. I'm using a pair of cheap ($100 ea.) Behringer B-1 condenser mics with an older Mbox usb digital recorder running Pro Tools LE software, and then Adobe Audition for editing and adding some reverb (I don't really like the Pro Tools interface). The piano is a 1910 Steinway B that I restored about 10 years ago, and which is now ready for a new set of hammers (you can hear some thinness and pingy-ness in the upper treble).


Mark Dierauf, RPT
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First, I had to find your recording. Most people are now posting their recordings on the Members Recordings subforum of Pianist Corner.

This is one of my favorite Beethoven variations, and I would certainly say it is up there with the Diabelli, Eroica, and C minor as one of the most technically difficult. It is woefully underrepresented on the concert stage. It has all the sparkle and joy that is common in so many of his early variations, most of which are unplayed and untaught. It reminds us what a puckish and delightful composer Beethoven was in his early years, before tragedy struck.

I think you capture that joie de vivre splendidly. Your playing is clean and light throughout, and sparkles where necessary. Your tempos are well chosen for each variation. You also appear to be scrupulous regarding Beethoven's notations, to the extent they are clear. There are some poor editions with mistakes out there, on which chords are to be held, for example (notably the left hand chord at the very end of the piece). I did not understand your policy on repeats; just going by the Breitkopf und Hartel score you follow the repeats sometimes and othertimes not. Urtext if I remember has different instructions on this, so who knows what the right thing to do might be? In any event, the variations moved along nicely and your judgment on repeats seems sound.

I especially liked the smoothness and evenness of your runs, for example in Variation 3, and also in Variation 15, which was impeccably played (I guess we can call these triplet runs). Your octaves are truly impressive, at the opening of Variation 13 in particular, which is a quite virtuosic challenge. Yes, you had some mis-hits in the second part of that variation, but one can always do multiple takes for a recording to get it right.

Variation 23, the Adagio Sostenuto, was exceptionally well played. What characterizes Beethoven's variations in his middle and late period is the inclusion of extended adagios (and fugues, for that matter). These adagios are very difficult to play, and in my view came about because of the influence of Beethoven's friend Hummel, who in a sense invented the use of florid, almost operatic ornamentation for the piano. It is really hard to play these movements well - to get the timing right bar by bar, to keep the overall line moving yet allow the music to breathe. You definitely have that skill. The careful attention to detail really counts here. I doubt many artists would make the distinction you did in the last few bars between 32nd notes and 64th notes.

Thanks for sharing your talent and drawing people's attention to a forgotten masterpiece.



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Fantastic performance and fantastic piece! I'd never heard this piece and have begun listening to all the Beethoven Variations listed as WoO as a result. About once every five years I hear a piece where my reaction is "That's such a great piece and I never heard it before...wow!"

Were you a performance major before becoming a piano technician?

My compliments also on the Regulation Checklist at your site. For the non tech like myself this is the first time I've seen a clear (or even any)explanation of how to determine if many of the basic regulation criteria are correct on one's piano.


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Wow - Thanks, Numerian!

I have been working on these since the late summer. I'm not a great sight reader and several of them are at the very limit of my technical ability (a bit beyond, really), so they represented a major challenge for me. But it's also been fun exploring the musical possibilities inherent in such well written variations. The recorder has been my friend here, helping me to hear to a certain extent what works and what doesn't.

Like you, I'm surprised at the relative obscurity of these early sets, There are several - most, in fact, - of those written before 1800 that deserve all the attention of their more well known brethren.

I'm using the Henle Edition, and I confess I don't really have a coherent policy on repeats! I repeated the theme for the recording, but usually don't. On some (6, 12 & 15) it seems logical as the 2nd half of the variation has the repeat written out. Some (like 8 or 22) seem just too good NOT to be repeated.

Thanks for your kind words on the Adagio. I've heard a Schnabel quote about some music that being "better than it can be played". That certainly applies to this variation. Absolutely sublime, especially coming from a 21 year old composer.


Mark Dierauf, RPT
NH Pianos
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Thanks, Pianoloverus!

Yes I was briefly a piano performance major a few decades back. I quickly realized that I was a pretty little fish in a big pond and fell in love with piano technology at about the same time!

Yes, I like that checklist. The ability to evaluate a piano's regulation is too important to be such a mystery to pianists!

Enjoy exploring the WoO's - you're in for some great listening pleasure!


Mark Dierauf, RPT
NH Pianos
Piano technician & rebuilder since 1978
www.nhpianos.com
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Posts: 32,377
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Originally Posted by nhpianos
!Yes, I like that checklist. The ability to evaluate a piano's regulation is too important to be such a mystery to pianists!
Do you mind if I post it on the Piano Forum? I think many members would find it fascinating (although you may get some who disagree with the information because that happens on virtually every post).

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Sure, that's fine with me, pass it along.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by nhpianos
!Yes, I like that checklist. The ability to evaluate a piano's regulation is too important to be such a mystery to pianists!
Do you mind if I post it on the Piano Forum? I think many members would find it fascinating (although you may get some who disagree with the information because that happens on virtually every post).


Mark Dierauf, RPT
NH Pianos
Piano technician & rebuilder since 1978
www.nhpianos.com

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