The Beethoven commemorations continue with a new release on 6 March, by celebrated pianist and renowned Beethoven specialist Rudolf Buchbinder. Buchbinder has released his first album on Deutsche Grammophon, a new series of works based on Beethoven’s monumental Diabelli Variations.
Buchbinder first recorded the Diabelli Variations early in his career. This time, he has invited 12 contemporary composers to write their own variations on Diabelli’s theme – which he will then record for DG and perform live on tour in 2020. His chosen contributors are: Krzysztof Penderecki, Rodion Shchedrin, Brett Dean, Max Richter, Jörg Widmann, Toshio Hosokawa, Lera Auerbach, Brad Lubman, Philippe Manoury, Johannes Maria Staud and Tan Dun.
Buchbinder’s new commissions echo the original story behind the Diabelli Variations. In 1819, music publisher and composer Anton Diabelli wrote a 32-bar “Deutscher”, or German Dance – a forerunner of the waltz – and sent it to more than 50 Austrian composers, asking each of them to write a variation on his original theme. Diabelli received contributions from Carl Czerny, Franz Schubert, Mozart’s son Franz Xaver, Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Franz Liszt, who was barely eight years old when the invitation was issued. Beethoven initially refused to write anything, and supposedly dismissed the theme for its banality – but four years later he sent the publisher his own Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli. The set, later hailed by conductor Hans von Bülow as a “microcosm of Beethoven’s genius”, turned out to be the composer’s last completed large-scale piano work.
Buchbinder’s new recording will be released on Deutsche Grammophon in March 2020. That same month, the 12 new compositions will receive their world premieres at the Vienna Musikverein as part of a concert that will also feature a performance of Beethoven’s Variations and a selection of the works from Diabelli’s original anthology. Buchbinder will subsequently embark on a world tour with repertoire including the 12 new pieces.