Anton Diabelli, Moscheles, Liszt, Czerny, Schubert, etc

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COMPOSERS: Anton Diabelli,Czerny,etc,Liszt,Moscheles,Schubert
LABELS: Meridian
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Diabelli Collection
WORKS: Variations on a Waltz
PERFORMER: Ian Fountain (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDE 84424
‘The Diabelli Variations’ equals Beethoven, but it also embraces single variations on the same Diabelli theme by 35 different notespinners, all of whom agreed to participate in the composer-publisher’s publicity puff. And here they all are, in performances far surpassing the only earlier recording of these all-but-forgotten stepchildren. Contributors include Schubert, the 11-year-old Liszt, his teacher Czerny, the hapless Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Jr, Ignaz Moscheles (an underrated composer), and a number of others whom it would be difficult to underrate, among them Messrs Czapek, Horalka, Kanne (who Kouldn’t), Mosel, Winkhler and sundry others. Among the remainder, however, there’s much to savour, and it’s intriguing to hear the contribution by Kalkbrenner (who promised to make the 21-year-old Chopin into ‘a real pianist’ if he would study with Kalkbrenner for three years; amazingly, the con almost worked).

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Ian Fountain has already made a distinguished recording of the ‘real’ Diabelli Variations (Beethoven’s) and it’s characteristic of his deeply ingrained musicianship that he doesn’t condescend in his treatment of these also-rans, but approaches even the least worthy of them with the same artistry he brings to their colossal sibling. In doing so, he has ensured that this release is likely to remain the definitive account of these historical curiosities. Jeremy Siepmann