Brilliant Classics

Beethoven: Complete Bagatelles, Diabelli

Beethoven: Complete Bagatelles, Diabelli
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven
Artist Vincenzo Maltempo
Format 2 CD
Cat. number PCL10181
EAN code 5029365101813
Release April 2020

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About this release

Winner of the prestigious Premio Venezia prize, Vincenzo Maltempo ‘rides high among many young and gifted Italian pianists.’ (Gramophone, January 2015). His recordings on Piano Classics have won critical acclaim for their technical finesse and musical sensitivity. His album of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies was an Editor’s Choice in the February 2017 issue of Gramophone: ‘exceptionally fine interpretations’. Regarding his most recent issue of the complete sonatas by Scriabin (PCL10168): ‘Maltempo has an excellent command of the instrument and is responsive to the multi-dimensional texture and complex harmonies of the music.’ (Gramophone, December 2019)

His latest release is a timely one, celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in Bonn with the two major variation sets and the ever-elusive, whimsical Bagatelles which have taxed the hands and imaginations of all the greatest pianists. All the works here derive ultimately from the composer’s instincts as an improviser and thinker at the keyboard: playing continually with ideas both physical and intellectual, working them over and around the body of the instrument that was his own principal medium of expression.

Between 1782 and 1800, he composed twelve variation sets for solo piano, almost all based on popular or operatic melodies. For the last of them, however, Beethoven drew on a theme of his own, initially composed for a contredanse but then reused in his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, and later immortalised as the subject of the variations in the finale of the Eroica Symphony. The Op. 34 variations marked a seachange in the composer’s treatment of his form, sharing the expressive reach of his sonatas and concluding with an ambitious fugue.

Even the Eroica Variations, however, give little notice of the visionary transformation wrought upon an upbeat but modest waltz, sent to him by his publisher Diabelli, in his final work in variation form. They occupied Beethoven on and off for five years, during which time he explored every possibility of the theme and of variation-form itself. The result is, in the words of Alfred Brendel, ‘the greatest of all piano works.’ Here and in the final Bagatelles we find Beethoven challenging even the outer limits of his own prodigious imagination as well as the fingers of his performers and the minds of his listeners. Amid the cavalcade of Beethoven releases in 2020, Maltempo’s new album is a big event.

Celebrating Beethoven’s birthday in 2020 this 2CD set presents piano works by the master which don’t belong to the monumental Sonata-canon but to other forms in which the composer poured out his genius: Bagatelles and Variations.

The three sets of Bagatelles (Opp. 33, 119 and 126) show Beethoven the improviser, a mind overflowing with ideas, experiments and jokes, but also capable of penning down the most tender and intimate miniatures, infinitely touching in their sincerity and deep feeling.

The Eroica and Diabelli variations are masterworks of his middle and late period respectively, towering achievements of invention and expression. As a “bonus” we also hear the exquisite Op. 34 Variations and the Rondo Capriccioso Op. 129 (Rage over the Lost Penny).

Italian pianist Vincenzo Maltempo, one of the most interesting pianists of the young generation, made his name in his staggering recordings of unjustly forgotten romantic repertoire: Transcendental Studies by Lyapunov (Piano Classics PCL0124) received 5 stars in several classical magazines (a.o. the French Diapason). His recording of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies received rave reviews, a Gramophone Editor’s Choice: “extraordinary breadth and nobility..little short of perfection..”, “9/9, close to ideal” (Jed Distler Classicstoday.com). His recordings of Alkan have “confirmed his place in the restricted circle of Alkan’s best performers, 5 stars”(Diapason), “Exhilarating, thrillingly demonic, 5 Stars” (Andrew Clement in The Guardian.

Listening

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 33: I. Andante grazioso quasi allegretto
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 33: II. Scherzo - Allegro
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 33: III. Allegretto
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 33: IV. Andante
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 33: V. Allegro ma non troppo
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 33: VI. Allegretto quasi andante
  7. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 33: VII. Presto
  8. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: I. Allegretto
  9. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: II. Andante con moto
  10. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: III. à l'Allamende
  11. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: IV. Andante cantabile
  12. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: V. Risoluto
  13. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: VI. Andante - Allegretto
  14. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: VII. C major
  15. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: VIII. Moderato cantabile
  16. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: IX. Vivace moderato
  17. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: X. Allegramente
  18. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119: XI. Andante ma non troppo
  19. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 126: I. Andante con moto, cantabile e con piacevole
  20. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 126: II. Allegro
  21. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 126: III. Andante, Cantabile ed espressivo
  22. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 126: IV. Presto
  23. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 126: V. Quasi allegretto
  24. Ludwig van Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 126: VI. Presto - Andante amabile e con moto
  25. Ludwig van Beethoven: Six Variations, Op.34: Variazioni
  26. Ludwig van Beethoven: Rondò, Op.129

Disk 2

  1. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Theme. Vivace
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 1
  3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 2
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 3
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 4
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 5
  7. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 6
  8. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 7
  9. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 8
  10. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 9
  11. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 10
  12. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 11
  13. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 12
  14. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 13
  15. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 14
  16. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 15
  17. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 16
  18. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 17
  19. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 18
  20. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 19
  21. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 20
  22. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 21
  23. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 22
  24. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 23
  25. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 24
  26. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 25
  27. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 26
  28. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 27
  29. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 28
  30. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 29
  31. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 30
  32. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 31
  33. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 32
  34. Ludwig van Beethoven: Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120: Variation 33
  35. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Introduction, Allegro vivace
  36. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 1
  37. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 2
  38. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 3
  39. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 4
  40. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 5
  41. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 6
  42. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 7
  43. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 8
  44. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 9
  45. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 10
  46. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 11
  47. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 12
  48. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 13
  49. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 14
  50. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Variation 15
  51. Ludwig van Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35: Finale (alla Fuga), Allegro con brio