£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

BUY NOW 

  AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli op.120 [53:39], 6 Bagatelles op. 126 [19:56], Rondo a capriccio in G op.129 – "Rage over a lost penny" [04:54]
Artur Schnabel (piano)
Recorded 30th October and 2nd November 1937 (op.120), 13th January 1937 (opp.126 &129) in EMI Abbey Road Studio no.3
CD transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn
NAXOS 8.110765
[78:29]

Schnabel’s Beethoven cycle began gloriously in 1932 with his sublime – if sonically challenged – interpretations of the last three sonatas. Having completed the sonatas in the meantime, the final volume closed equally gloriously with the first ever recording of Beethoven’s last large-scale masterpiece for piano, the Diabelli variations. Meanwhile the recording industry had been making strides and the sound here, if without the bloom and range of the best modern recordings, is revealed in Mark Obert-Thorn’s careful restorations to be more than acceptable – after a while one becomes so absorbed in the performance that the sound scarcely matters.

As for the performance, it should be emphasized that this is not one of those occasions where Schnabel’s studio nerves failed him and left him flailing and fumbling. His fingers are on their best behaviour and allow us to appreciate an interpretation which finds a just and convincing solution to every myriad change of mood along the way. It would be reductive towards the many great pianists who have given their all to this elusive masterpiece to suggest that it remains the only version that counts, but it certainly set interpretative and intellectual standards which are a daunting challenge to all that followed.

Schnabel is equally responsive to Beethoven’s cryptic op.126 Bagatelles, aptly described by Alec Robertson (quoted in the booklet) as "a sort of sound-sketch book" of Beethoven in his daily life. Schnabel is as truthful towards the moments of drollery or ugliness as to those of beauty and contemplation. Finally, the so-called "Rage over a Lost Penny" whose digital demands might seem risk territory for Schnabel, but which actually comes off splendidly, with furious aplomb.

Naxos continues to provide its historical releases with exemplary presentation, in this case by Brian C. Thompson with a technical note from Obert-Thorn. If you don’t have Schnabel’s "Diabelli" then snatch this modestly priced issue up before the threatened extension of copyright laws kills it off.

Christopher Howell

 

 



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

 

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable Arcodiva
British Music Soc.
CDAccord
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter


Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter

Return to Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.