Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 05/01/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Piotr Anderszewski is clearly one of the great piano virtuosos before the public today. His awards and recordings attest to a titanic technique that seems to improve with age. He recently earned raves from critics on both sides of the Atlantic for his recording of Mozart piano concertos. His playing in this recording is magnificent, even perfect. And that's the problem -- it's too perfect, like those machine paintings they try to sell you at starving artists sales that have a painter's name on them but you know it was signed by a robot generated from a computer program to put out 10,000 of the things, every one just like the one before it.
It's a bit difficult for me to grade a recording of Beethoven's "Diabelli" variations, not because it's not great music but because it is not a favorite of mine. Give me his "15 Variations on a Theme in C minor", "Eroica" variations, or his variations on Handel's "Hail the conquering hero" theme for cello and piano and I'm in heaven. But, while I don't contest the Diabelli's are on a par with Bach's Goldberg variations, they simply don't do it for me emotionally. And in a reading like this one, where a fabulous technician essentially misses half of what the composer is trying to say in the score, it is that much more difficult to appreciate.
What Anderszewski misses is stated in just a few sentences of Marcel Marnat's notes: "In this work Beethoven sums up all his various styles, ranging from 18th century smiles to Romantic prophecy. In the old-fashioned waltz that so charmed his contemporaries, he found an extraordinary opportunity to be constantly prophetic and mighty." Please note the phrase, "...Beethoven sums up..."
Where Anderszewski often errs, in my opinion, is in his failure to either understand, project or adapt to Beethoven's styles. Examples of these misses are all over the place. In Variation 14 he uses far too much pedal and comes off sounding more like Liszt than Beethoven. The Variation 20 presto, instead of exuding Beethoven's humor, exhibits techinique to burn but only a superficial understanding of the musical values the composer is reflecting, as if this is a practice example and not a great work of art. And while Anderszewski revels in the 32nd notes of Variation 23's allegro assai, another place where the composer is having some fun, Anderszewski interprets it to say little more than, "Look at how fast I can play this music!"
Like his recording of Bach's Partitas 1, 3 and 6, Anderszewski employs a near total lack of rubato, diminuendo, accelerando, tenuto and other devices that bring passion, individiuality and characterization to the music, instead relying solely on his fabulous prestidigitation for affect. Only in Variation 30's andante does he break this pattern and allow the music to breathe. Unfortunately, he continues his metrical approach in Variation 32 largo where he intermingles facile, limpid playing with a metronomic approach. Like with his Bach, it confuses me how this player can be so outstanding at the keyboard and come nearly to the heart of the message at times, while virtually missing everything the composer is saying the rest of the time.
Even though it's not one of my favorite pieces I have nonetheless heard enough versions of the music to know a great one when I hear it. To gain a more complete understanding of Beethoven's purpose in writing this near the end of his life go to Richter's wonderful recordings or give Brendel a whirl. My personal favorite is the one Rudolf Serkin recorded at Vermont's Marlboro festival for CBS (later Columbia, now Sony). While Serkin's playing is authoritative and reflects a lifetime of commitment to the core German piano repertoire, the stamp of authenticity is an unexpected obligato in a passage near the end from some crickets stationed within earshot of microphones that night, making this one of the most unique concert recordings of Beethoven or any other composer."
(5 out of 5 stars)
"May be I`m biased, because I first saw the film by Moinsaingeon and got astonished, enchanted by Anderszevski`s passion for that particular piece and for Beethoven`s music in general. It`s not only the understanding but also the great love for that music that makes PA`s interpretation so unique. He manages to convey all the moods so well: he`s moody, ardent, ironic, furious, funny,brooding, angry...You wish there were at least some 20 more variations"
A Great Recording Of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 12/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I haven't heard a recording of Brendel's performance of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations - though I have heard him perform them live at Carnegie Hall - I would certainly agree that it has to be regarded as the benchmark recording, along with those from Kinderman and Kovacevich, against which others ought to be measured. Andreszewski's exceptional, often idiosyncratic, performance is a worthy rival to any of them, especially Brendel's. This is a superb recording of a great pianist slowly emerging, willing to put his own stamp on one of the most important compositions of the piano. His technique seems akin to Brendel's or Kovacevich's, yet he is more willing than either pianist in considering sudden changes in tempo, especially broader tempi. The sound quality is exceptionally good. Although some critics are saying that this is now the definitive version of the Diabelli Variations, I'm not sure whether such lavish praise is justified. Yet it is a fascinating, excellent interpretation that should go on your shelf alongside the recordings by Brendel, Kinderman or Kovacevich."
A Recording I Hate To Love
50cent-haircut | 08/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've listened to Kovacevich's Diabelli all these years, and remained convinced that no one could top his version. Naturally, I ended up comparing Anderszewski's Diabelli with Kovacevich at every turn. Intellectually, Anderszewski's version one-ups Kovacevich and the design of his playing is something to marvel at. There is not a phrase that hasn't been mulled over, a pause that hasn't been well-considered. It's a deeply idiosyncratic, sometimes willful interpretation, but it's never uninteresting. I still prefer Kovacevich's tempi better, but I was bowled over by this thoughtful, often beautiful recording, and I must say, it is the new benchmark for the Diabelli, supplanting everything else I've heard on the catalogue."
Please disregard the Review below this one.
Michael McCallie | Chattanooga, TN USA | 08/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not exactually sure what the hell the reviewer below is talking about, but it seems that his impression of this interpretation of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations is less than receptive. This is an excellent recording of these variations regardless of what anyone says, Anderszewski's interpretation is certainly a valid one even if his idea of the scope of these variations is rather short. He tends to treat each variation as a seperate sort of "miniature" instead of part of larger whole, but as the editorial review above states, it is easy to hear the promise of great pianism in years ahead in these interpretations as this recording shows proof of Anderszewski's considerable technical merit, and his interpretive intelligence. If you're in search of the definitive recording of these pieces this may or may not be the right choice depending on your personal taste, but if you own several recordings of these excellent variations, this one is certainly capable of holding it's own with the heavyweights."