LABELS: MCA Millennium Classics
WORKS: 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120; Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27/2 (Moonlight)
PERFORMER: Daniel Barenboim (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MCD 80091 ADD
A ‘Diabelli’ to remember. Barenboim’s powerful grasp of structure ensures that this colossal and valedictory work emerges as an epic and continuous arc. He imparts to the music a sense of inevitability that never descends to the merely predictable. The work’s extraordinary originality is evident throughout, even the most familiar passages emerging with a freshness and shock value that keep the ear and the mind continuously engaged. That said, this isn’t a performance in which beauty of sound is given a high priority (but then the same could be said for much of the music itself). Nor is the recorded acoustic anything to write home about. Verdict: an impressive curate’s egg. Rugged and stimulating, yes. Ingratiating? Not for one moment.