As is his custom, Andreas Staier has gone back to the original manuscript of one of the most famous sets of variations in history: Beethoven’s ‘Diabelli Variations’. He has not however, restricted his work to recording the magnum opus, since the CD begins with a selection of variations written by some of the other 50 composers Diabelli asked to take part in his project. Here you can discover the very first stirrings of Liszt’s virtuosity (aged 11), the music of Mozart’s son, the unexpected variations of Kreutzer and Kalkbrenner, and the ‘Diabelli Variation’ of a certain Franz Schubert. A thrilling musical investigation with Andreas Staier’s own ‘Introduction’.
“My intention with the Introduction was to create a sound-space that separates the twelve ‘preludes’, from Czerny to Schubert, from Beethoven’s great cycle. It’s a pause for breath in what is otherwise rigorously composed music. So I think the improvisatory element is perfectly appropriate here. And that way one can ensure that Diabelli’s waltz has the necessary freshness the second time it’s played. I keep to the essence of what can be made out from Beethoven’s sketch of 1819, and stay close to the theme. The striking three-note motif with the combination of the intervals of a semitone and a rising third suggests an echo of the finale from the Piano Sonata in D major op.10 no.3. But I didn’t develop the interval of the descending fourth in the sketch because it’s so clearly presented by Beethoven himself in the very first variation…
This fascinating manuscript allows us to infer Beethoven’s choleric and impatient sides, but not the ironic side to his character. The annotations show his worries and difficulties during a pretty laborious process of composition. What began as a fair copy increasingly turns into a working manuscript. With the dynamics of the handwriting and the many corrections and erasures, it provides a whole range of pointers to the composer’s intentions. It’s a treasure trove for the interpreter.” Andreas Staier