Beethoven: 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Hyperion Helios
WORKS: 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli
PERFORMER: William Kinderman (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 55082 Reissue (1994)
William Kinderman’s recording of the Diabelli Variations is as responsible and scrupulous as one might predict from this reliable Beethoven scholar. Unfortunately, the final result seems didactic rather than revelatory for a number of interrelated reasons. The presence of a metronome in the pianist’s development of his conception is all but audible: in Vars 4, 8 and 11 (as obvious examples) pacing is oriented around the beat rather than the phrase. As a result, character is often sacrificed to (or at least restricted by) metrical regularity. Although Var. 24 is beautifully introspective, some of the more extroverted variations suffer from a shortage of temperament (Var. 28 is a pleasant exception). Finally, Kinderman’s eagerness to do justice to each detail means that the large-scale unfolding of the work is not as clear or inexorable as in numerous other accounts, among which Piotr Anderszewski’s imaginative version is an especially memorable achievement. David Breckbill