...this reviewer was mildly disappointed. The Brendel Diabelli Variations is frequently held up as one of the greats, and while it's true that Brendel has some interesting things to say about many of the variations (especially the slower ones), what lets him down in my humble opinion is technique: from time to time I was pretty shocked by the lapses in intonation and unevenness of tone (the Pollini version, while not plumbing the depths of the Brendel, is worth listening to for a comparison in this regard).
Turning to specific variations, I was rather let down by Brendel's account of the final three variations (Pollini I think pulls these off best of the versions I've heard so far). No 31 lacks the poise of Pollini or Barenboim, while No 32 lacks Pollini's energy, though is far superior to Barenboim's bizarre account, with its haphazard dynamics and unnecessary rubato. (Is there ANY version of No 32 that *doesn't* insert a ritardando before the coda? It's not in the score and it's musically so wrong and so at variance with what I think Beethoven intended with this passage it baffles me that everyone seems to do this.)
Something tells me there is "perfect Diabelli recording" out there. However with the advent of playlists, you can always make your own out of several different recordings. This one is worth having for that purpose.
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