Czech-born Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder started studying Beethoven’s Diabelli Variationsas a student more than 50 years ago and they have remained an essential part of his musical life ever since. He has 39 printed editions of the complete sonatas in his library, and years of studying and performing all the composer’s piano music has freed him up from the strictly faithful interpretations of his youth – now, he says, he can be “more daring, perhaps”.
All this distilled wisdom is brought to bear on his latest Beethoven foray, The Diabelli Project,for which he commissioned 11 contemporary composers, including Australia’s Brett Dean, to come up with their own variation on Anton Diabelli’s waltz tune. The result is a fascinating musical kaleidoscope, all affectionately dedicated to Buchbinder.
These works, which include contributions from Tan Dun, Max Richter and Rodion Schedrin, are featured on the second of the two discs in the set.
When in 1819 Diabelli issued his invitation to “patriotic artists” from Austria to compose a variation on his theme there was an enthusiastic response from several composers, among them...