Eroica Variations (Piano Varia
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The art of variation lies at the heart of much music, including that of Beethoven, who practised this demanding technique as both performer and composer at many stages throughout his career. For his 'Eroica' Variations Beethoven used a theme originally wr
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It is often said that the theme for the 'Diabelli Variations' is a silly or trite or mundane thing. Whoever says that, however, would gape at the silly, trite and mundane theme for the 'Twelve Variations on the "Menuet à la Viganò" from Jakob Haibel's "Le nozze disturbate", WoO 71'. And frankly Beethoven doesn't do a whole lot with it that is very interesting throughout its thirteen minute length. In fairness, it is early Beethoven, from 1795. It gets a fair enough performance by Yoo. However, just the next year Beethoven wrote a charming set of variations on Paul Wranitzky's ballet 'Das Waldmädchen' and Yoo gives us a charming reading.
The next two sets of variations are only moderately interesting, although the set on Salieri's 'La stessa, la stessissima' from his Falstaff, has its share of charm. The final set of variations, though, Beethoven's Op. 76, written the same year as his 'Emperor' Piano Concerto, is another matter. Slight though it be and based as it is on the familiar but banal 'Turkish March' from his 'Ruin of Athens' it is both cleverly constructed and unfailingly interesting to hear (and to play, I must say). There are surprising octave displacements and glittering scales. Yoo plays it brilliantly.
One word about the recording. Occasionally the recorded sound of the piano becomes clangy. Worse, there are spots in the Eroica where the piano sounds out of tune. And there are some rare fumbled notes. This is not a live recording but presumably these were not caught and patched.
There are better recordings of the Eroica Variations if that is the main interest of anyone thinking to buy this release. They include the classic version by Alfred Brendel Beethoven: Für Elise; Eroica-Variationen and a more recent outstanding version by Cédric Tiberghien Beethoven: Variations pour Piano.