Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
Wonderful sound and sensitive and intelligent playing
on 14 April 2017
This is a fascinating recording for several reasons. Firstly, Staier has recorded a selection of Diabelli variations by composers other than Beethoven. There are some interesting pieces in this selection and some of them sound very close to Beethoven. This is due not only to starting with the same theme but also that Beethoven's set was published in 1823 and the other set of individual variations by 50 different composers was published in 1824. Therefore these composers could have been familiar with Beethoven. Nevertheless there are some fine pieces of music and they do draw attention to the thematic and harmonic details of the theme that were to interest Beethoven so much. - The Schubert variation is splendid and has no debt to Beethoven!
Secondly, Staier uses some of the additional pedals that are found on the fortepiano. This lends some very find sound effects to the 'Notto e Giorno Fatticar' variation due to the janissary pedal - surely Staier, Beethoven, or both had the Rondo a la Turca in mind here as well as Leporello's complaint? In variation 20 he uses a different pedal that creates a luminous quality to the music.
Thirdly, there are very intelligent program notes and an interview with Staier.
Fourthly, the performance is very fine. Staier conveys the introspection of Variation 30 (as an example) exquisitely. He also enjoys the more extrovert variations and these come off very well.
Fifth and last, the sound of the fortepiano is quite good. It stays in tune, it does not creak and rattle, it is a pleasure to listen to. If the instrument cannot conjure up the seamless lyricism of a modern concert grand (which may well be what Beethoven wanted for his great spans of lyricism within his ideal world of internal sound though of course we will never know) it certainly holds its own while providing a fine pallet of registral sounds that are not present on modern pianos.
If only Staier could go back in time and coax Chopin to add a variation....such a fine musician, I wouldn't put it past him!