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A recording from my ongoing exploration of Beethoven's variations. Comments on either the performance or the recording are most welcome!

Beethoven WoO 76


Mark Dierauf, RPT
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I can't criticize music that is this delightful, both in performance and presentation. I am sure someone on PW will find something to nit-pick, but in my opinion, this is thoroughly professionally accomplished and enjoyable in every way! smile Beautifully done, Mark!

--Andy


I may not be fast,
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Thanks so much, Andy. There are certainly more than a few technical issues with the performance, but all in all I'm pleased with how it came out (especially the 64th note run at 5:14 in the 7th variation).

I honestly can't understand why these early variation sets by LVB remain so little known in his repertoire.


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Delightful performance! I can't think of anything to say other than well done! And I loved the recording quality.

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As others have said, both the performance and the recording are just exceptional. Just loaded with charm and wit! And I, too, am amazed at how little the Beethoven variations are known and programmed. For me, they offer a complete view of Beethoven's toolchest -- all its remarkable invention and seemingly limitless arsenal of elegant pianistic gestures. Certainly looking forward to your future recordings of these wonderful works!

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Thanks, Tim. I did post another set a couple of years ago, but the link in the original post has changed. Here's the updated link, if you're interested. The recording quality isn't quite as good, and there are a lot more mistakes <g>, but I think it's the best of the WoO sets, hands down.

Beethoven 24 Variations on "Venni Amore" by Righini WoO 65 (1790)


Mark Dierauf, RPT
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Originally Posted by nhpianos
I honestly can't understand why these early variation sets by LVB remain so little known in his repertoire.
I agree. I've listened to quite a few of his Wwo variation sets and almost all are terrific IMO. The same could be said about the Beethoven solo piano Fantasy. Not quite as good perhaps as the greatest Sonatas but that's an awfully high bar to set to decide if something something should appear in a recital. Pianists, like Brendel, who have recorded basically every Beethoven work for piano, have recordings of the Wwos but my guess is that, other than these Beethoven completeists, most of the great pianists have recorded/performed only a few of the Wwos at best.

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Originally Posted by nhpianos
The recording quality isn't quite as good, and there are a lot more mistakes <g>, but I think it's the best of the WoO sets, hands down.

Beethoven 24 Variations on "Venni Amore" by Righini WoO 65 (1790)


Yet another fine example! I have never heard any of the WoO variations, and I'm quite happy you've posted these recordings here. These variations made me smile a lot. Such inventiveness and humor. And an enjoyable recording.

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Many thanks, Chris!


Mark Dierauf, RPT
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Originally Posted by ChrisKeys
Originally Posted by nhpianos
The recording quality isn't quite as good, and there are a lot more mistakes <g>, but I think it's the best of the WoO sets, hands down.

Beethoven 24 Variations on "Venni Amore" by Righini WoO 65 (1790)


Yet another fine example! I have never heard any of the WoO variations, and I'm quite happy you've posted these recordings here. These variations made me smile a lot. Such inventiveness and humor. And an enjoyable recording.


I agree! This is some of the BEST Beethoven we've heard in Members Recordings in a long, long time! I want to know more about these variations, and when they were written (1790, yeah, I get it; but, what about WoO 76--presumably sometime later...?, yet WoO 65 has "late" elements in it (if only I could do the math against the biography...)), and you've inspired me to try this WoO 76!...

Here is a comment of encouragement:

I had in my archive a quote from Ferdinand Ries, a student of Beethoven, which, when I found it originally, freed me a great deal at the keyboard. You probably know it already, but I thought, "for the benefit of others." So, I went looking for it to share with you, by which I mean, "others." crazy (Just where I am going with this, anyway?!? smile ) This is the first quote, filed as "Beethoven quote," which was *not* the one I was looking for:

"Handel is the unattained master of all masters. Go to him and learn how to produce great effects with scant deploy of means." --Beethoven

Good advice, but not what I had in mind. None the less, what about Bach, for goodness sake?!? By the way--do you play Handel? Please, let us hear some, if so!...

So, I prevailed in the search of my archives, and found this quote: Ferdinand Ries, student of Beethoven --

"When I left out something in a passage, a note or a skip, which in many cases he wished to have specially emphasized, or struck a wrong key, he seldom said anything; yet when I was at fault with regard to the expression, the crescendi or matters of that kind, or in the character of the piece, he would grow angry. Mistakes of the other kind, he said, were due to chance; but these last resulted from want of knowledge, feeling or attention. He himself often made mistakes of the first kind, even when playing in public." (Beethoven: Impressions by his contemporaries, O.G. Sonneck, ed. c1967, of 1926.)

I believe that if Beethoven were at your shoulder as your teacher, he could and would not fault you for mistakes of the second kind. Your playing in both of these recordings is fluid, expressive, and done with obvious understanding of the material. I'm sorry I missed WoO 65 the first time around. Thank you for sharing the link! Don't let anything or anyone change the way that you play!

Next question: Do you play, or are you perhaps working on, Beethoven's Piano Sonata Opus 28, "Pastorale"? Man, I would love to hear that one from you with your current set-up of playing/instrument/tuning/room/mic'ing. If you take requests, or, if you have your tip jar on the music desk... grin

--Andy

P.S. One of my older listeners wheeled herself up to the piano and said, "I'll give you a nickel if you play 'Stardust.'" I said, "I'll to it for free!" That's what I mean about the tip jar. I'm sure the Pastorale would be worth much more than a nickle, but you know what I mean. grin


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Thanks again, Andy. I had also posted the Righini variations with score on youtube with some commentary, in case you're interested. (link here)

The date I find for the Sussmayr variations is 1799. I agree that these early pieces have elements of his later music evident in them. For instance the contrapuntal variations near the end - absent in the very early Righini but included in many of the other WoO sets. The Righinis nevertheless include several canonic variations. Also his fascination with the use of silence and/or pauses as a compositional tool, both of which are extensively explored in these two works.

As for Beethoven looking over my shoulder, I had a vivid image of him doing so recently while learning his Op. 7 sonata. I managed to seriously pull a chest muscle practicing the last movement, where the left hand crosses over the right. It actually hurt to breath for a few days. Actually, Beethoven wasn't over my shoulder, but rather rolling on the floor, laughing his a$$ off!
[Linked Image]


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

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