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Eroica Variations

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Audio CD, August 31, 2010
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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


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 31, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B003RCFCWE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,889 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Beethoven frequently wrote sets of variations either as stand-alone works or as movements of larger works. His most famous set of variations is probably the set that constitutes the final movement of his Third Symphony, the 'Eroica'. (For piano lovers his best set of variations is, without question, the monumental 'Variations on a Theme by Diabelli' for solo piano.) As it happens Beethoven used the 'Eroica' theme for another set of variations, this one for solo piano and included on this disc. The theme comes from his early ballet music for 'The Creatures of Prometheus', but universally this theme is called the Eroica theme because of its occurrence in the symphony. The 'Eroica Variations', heard here as played by Korean pianist Ian Yungwook Yoo, one of six sets of variations played on this disc, is easily the composer's second-best set of variations for piano. Yoo, a Korean Juilliard-trained pianist, plays the Eroica Variations in what one could call a masculine style, with sudden dynamic contrasts, huge fortissimos, brusque phrasing where needed as with the repeated outbursts of three double octaves in the theme. He repeatedly slights, however, the piano and pianissimo markings but plays at a mezzo-forte in many passages. However, he manages, for instance, the sotto voce Var. 4 with suitable softness. But he certainly bangs out the sforzato chords in, to my ears, crude fashion. Still this is a valid traversal of this work and there will be many who relish its marked contrasts.

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'.
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