Beethoven's monstrous set of variations on Diabelli's `cobbler's patch' makes not for easy listening: as with his large set of c-minor variations (WoO 80), he seems to have been writing very much for himself to prove just how much he could do with limited matter.
In a case similar to his nefarious Hammerklavier Sonata, really enjoyable realizations are few.
We should recall that Beethoven was the original jazzman who in his youth swung like mad and produced early sets of variations on contemporary ditties, some of which have a great deal of charm and wit.
Beethoven was still writing variations even in his late period--(cf. Opp. 109, 111, 125, 131).
But the Diabellies remain a difficult and challenging set from any perspective, technically complex and oft heavy-handed; withal, except for the finest performances, the Diabellies frequently prove fatiguing and obnoxious.
The only performance we've found to be more than tolerable--indeed, really artistically satisfying and aesthetically pleasing, is Arrau's 1985 realization.
(Scherbakov's 1997 reading is also commendable in its Arrauean expansiveness, nicely matched with the two splendid British melody sets WoO 78-9.)