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Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty? (Read 12965 times)

Offline dnephi

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Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
« on: June 12, 2007, 01:06:12 PM »
Brendel considers this the greatest piece ever written for the piano.

Cortot says it requires "Complete Transcendent Technique."

Discuss.
For us musicians, the music of Beethoven is the pillar of fire and cloud of mist which guided the Israelites through the desert.  (Roughly quoted, Franz Liszt.)

piano sheet music of 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli


Offline wishful thinker

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #1 on: June 12, 2007, 01:41:52 PM »
I like the Diabelli very much - have you seen Piotr Anderszewski's DVD?

I have the sheet music, and it doeesn't seem too difficult (not any more than others at Sonata level), but then I don't really have the time to study it.
Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.

Offline maxy

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #2 on: June 14, 2007, 09:10:00 PM »
I find the Diabelli variations very hard.  Certainly harder than most piano sonatas by the same composer.

Offline counterpoint

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #3 on: June 14, 2007, 09:30:48 PM »
Most malevolent variations ever composed.

They are great, it's fun to play.

Brendel is a bit too serious for this funny and grotesque work imho.
If it doesn't work - try something different!

Offline thalberg

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #4 on: June 15, 2007, 04:15:32 AM »
Yeah one of my teachers played those in grad school.

There was this woman behind me who didn't know how long they were supposed to be and didn't want to be at the concert.  Toward the end, every time he started a new variation, she would whisper-shout some lamentation.  I thought he could hear her from the stage, but I asked him afterward and he said he couldn't.

Anyway, his performance was really dry.

Offline soliloquy

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #5 on: June 16, 2007, 07:45:38 AM »
Difficulty > Value in this case, IMO.

Offline counterpoint

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #6 on: June 16, 2007, 08:05:20 AM »
Difficulty > Value in this case, IMO.

Your system of judging musical value is not quite clear to me  ;)

Besides that: Diabelli Variations are not that difficult to play, the c-minor Variations are more difficult.
If it doesn't work - try something different!

Offline furtwaengler

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #7 on: June 16, 2007, 08:08:51 AM »
Value is a subjective thing...on the other hand, the Diabelli Variations is late Beethoven, so it *MUST* be good ;D
Don't let anyone know where you tie your goat.

Offline thalberg

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #8 on: June 16, 2007, 09:02:34 AM »
Difficulty > Value in this case, IMO.

Don't say that until you play the Ives Concord Sonata.

It's MUCH harder than the Diabelli Variations and MUCH less valuable.


Offline mephisto

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #9 on: June 16, 2007, 12:36:25 PM »
You have a problem with thge Ives Concord Sonata?

Being worse than the Diabelli variations isn't such a bad thing though.

Offline thalberg

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #10 on: June 18, 2007, 12:41:07 AM »
I do indeed have a problem with the Ives Concord Sonata.

And I have a right to criticize it because I did a research project on it involving over 130 sources in about 5 languages.  At least I know what I'm criticizing.

Offline desordre

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #11 on: June 18, 2007, 01:51:45 AM »
 Answers:
 a) Yes, very much indeed;
 b) Yes, very much indeed;

  8)

 Best wishes!
 
Player of what?

Offline numerian

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #12 on: June 19, 2007, 04:06:46 PM »
Brendel is not alone in thinking this the greatest piece of music in the piano literature.  Heinrich Neuhaus, who taught Richter, Gilels, and other great Soviet artists, said the same thing.  As I understand their argument, the Diabelli Variations contain more sheer imagination, creativity and genius in one single piano composition than can be found anywhere else.  Beethoven has even found a way to write a variation on the mordent that introduces the theme. 

Certainly the ingenuity of the Diabelli Variations ranks as high as anything found in Beethoven's sonatas or anything his contemporaries were writing (including Schubert).  It represents the pinnacle of theme and variation writing - only Brahms and Rachmaninoff came close afterwards.  Is it the greatest piece of piano music ever?  That's a question of taste, but it is certainly a candidate in any serious list.

As to technical difficulty, like a lot of Beethoven, decent amateurs can play the music decently.  An artistic performance, however, is much harder and requires absolute technical command of the material.  Moreover, the 40 minutes of music can easily tire an audience unless it is in the hands of a true master.

Offline wishful thinker

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #13 on: July 04, 2007, 07:40:28 AM »
As to technical difficulty, like a lot of Beethoven, decent amateurs can play the music decently.  An artistic performance, however, is much harder and requires absolute technical command of the material.

Totally agree with this statement. How often do we hear "Oh, Fur Elise, I could play that when I was six weeks old/after one lesson" sort of stuff; whereas though relatively simple (relative to the appasionata say) it is much easier to play appallingly than to play well  8)
Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.

Offline claude_debussy

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Re: Diabelli Variations- Value? Difficulty?
«Reply #14 on: July 04, 2007, 11:03:57 AM »
Beethoven wrote variations his whole life, from his earliest pieces on, and not just as independent compositions but as experimental movements in sonatas and symphonies, including the Eroica and the 9th.  The form is a central one for him, and this phenomenon hasn't been investigated thoroughly enough.  The Diabelli Variations are the summation of all he knew, with homage variations at the end to Handel (fugue), Bach (aria) and Mozart (the exquisite Tempo di Menuetto, itself a set of variations within the final variation), and it's all indelibly Beethoven as well. 

There is a lifetime of thought and musical invention, and about a third of the Diabelli's are diabolically difficult to play, while the piece as a whole makes tremendous demands on a performer to keep its continuity intact and to reach the peaks of energy and passion it demands, particularly in the final ten variations. 

For the greatest recorded performances, search out the rare Leonard Shure CD on Audiofon - the piece was a lifelong specialty of Shure's, Schnabel's only assistant, and an artist woefully (let's say: criminally) under-represented on recordings.   Also find the Peter Serkin performance on LP - a rarity, but a nearly perfect performance in every regard, and technically stunning aside from anything else.  Horszowski is out there somewhere too, and of course there are other great exponents, like Jerome Rose....  No one plays the Diabelli's on recording unless they're at the top rank technically and artistically - it's a summit achievement, a touchstone emblematic of ultimate mastery.

Difficulty is somewhat subjective, but this piece throws everything at you, very quickly and in rapid succession.  As opposed to tackling a grand edifice like the Hammerklavier, the Diabelli's require exquisite shifts in mood, tempo and articulation, from brutal to lyrical in neighboring pages, and that triple fugue which goes into double-time at the halfway point offers a terrifying plunge into complexity and violence ...

Value?  An enormous late-Beethoven piano piece that's unique - his last major work for piano, actually - can't be quantified.  It's off the charts.  Listen to the final page of the last variation as Beethoven says goodbye, to the world and the piano, and ask yourself what, in this world of ours, is worth more?

peace and love -

claude