Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Maurizio Pollini (piano)
Deutsche Grammophon - 459 645-2 [50.08]

1. Tema. Vivace
2. Var. 1. Alla Marcia Maestoso
3. Var. 2. Poco Allegro
4. Var. 3. L'Istesso Tempo
5. Var. 4. Un Poco Piu Vivace
6. Var. 5. Allegro Vivace
7. Var. 6. Allegro Ma Non Troppo E Serioso
8. Var. 7. Un Poco Piu Allegro
9. Var. 8. Poco Vivace
10. Var. 9. Allegro Pesante E Risoluto
11. Var. 10. Presto
12. Var. 11. Allegretto
13. Var. 12. Un Poco Piu Moto
14. Var. 13. Vivace
15. Var. 14. Grave E Maestoso
16. Var. 15. Presto Scherzando
17. Var. 16. Allegro
18. Var. 17
19. Var. 18. Poco Moderato
20. Var. 19. Presto21. Var. 20. Andante
22. Var. 21. Allegro Con Brio - Meno Allegro
23. Var. 22. Allegro Molto (Alla 'Notte E Giorno Faticar' Di Mozart)
24. Var. 23. Allegro Assai
25. Var. 24. Fughetta. Andante
26. Var. 25. Allegro
27. Var. 26
28. Var. 27. Vivace
29. Var. 28. Allegro
30. Var. 29. Adagio Ma Non Troppo
31. Var. 30. Andante, Sempre Cantabile
32. Var. 31. Molto Espressivo
33. Var. 32. Fuga. Allegro
34. Var. 33. Tempo Di Menuetto, Moderato (Ma Non Tirarsi Dietro)

The Diabelli Variations is one of those works that almost never fails to capture and hold interest and wonder, however many times heard. Any good record collection should have at least one version, and for many collectors that will be Brendel, who illuminates countless details along the way (Philips - 4262322).

Pollini is far more straightforward in his approach and storms through imperiously, without ever relaxing his hold on the listener. He inflects detail minimally, maintains steady tempi through individual variations, and does not seek to reveal Beethoven's wit, of which there is plenty to be found. It is take-it-or-leave-it Beethoven, straight in your face, sometimes brusque as the (very deaf) composer might have played it, with little concern for the sensitivities of his hearers.

But set against that Pollini's technical command and manifest authority at the keyboard. Having heard him recently in a dazzling recital, I would bet that not too many retakes were needed in the studio to get all the notes in place. Initially I was disconcerted by his approach, but quickly was swept up in the continuity with which he presents this huge work in a single trajectory, which makes the fifty minutes feel shorter than that.

If you don't have a Diabelli yet, and don't know these 33 variations on Anton Diabelli's banal little waltz all that well, do yourself a favour and purchase two versions - not this one alone. The recording is superb and the notes give helpful cues for further study.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit