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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDH55201
Recording details: December 1989
Abbey Road Studios, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ates Orga
Engineered by Peter Bown
Release date: November 2004
Total duration: 23 minutes 57 seconds

'… ce programme vient nous rappeler le vrai talent de cette Arménienne … Les Variations Haendel sont, et l'on pèse ces mots, tout simplement les plus belles qu'il ait été donné d'entendre: d'un ton, d'une maîtrise, d'un style fabuleux, d'un stupéfiant équilibre entre tension et tendresse, elles sont la perfection d'un bout à l'autre, bouleversantes jusqu'à la gigantesque Fugue qui n'a jamais été chantée à ce point' (Diapason, France)

Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme 'Eroica', Op 35

Tema  [0'43]
Variation 1  [0'37]
Variation 2  [0'53]
Variation 3  [0'42]
Variation 4  [0'38]
Variation 5  [0'48]
Variation 6  [0'39]
Variation 7  [0'41]
Variation 8  [0'58]
Variation 9  [0'40]
Variation 10  [0'43]
Variation 11  [0'44]
Variation 12  [0'41]
Variation 13  [0'41]
Variation 14  [1'20]
Variation 15  [4'50]
Finale alla Fuga  [4'43]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Op 35 variations date from 1802, the year of the Op 30 violin sonatas and the second symphony, of the Heiligenstadt Testament. To his Leipzig publisher, Breitkopf & Härtel, Beethoven wrote (18 October): ‘I have made two sets of variations … both are written in quite a new style and each in an entirely different way … you will never regret the two works. Each theme in them is treated independently and in a wholly different manner … I myself can assure you that in both works the style is completely new for me …’

Cast in the unusual form of an introduction, theme, fifteen variations and a fugue, the Op 35 cycle is based on a sixteen-bar binary theme from the finale of the ballet Prometheus (1800/1), a tune Beethoven used also for a Contradanse of the same period (WoO14 No 7), as well as of course, most celebratedly, for the finale of the later ‘Eroica’ Symphony (1803). In a manner anticipative of the ‘Diabelli’ Variations, he thinks of this idea essentially as a generating ‘thematic unit’. His preoccupation is with the totality of its profile. He is as much concerned with its harmonic underlay, its bass line, as with its melodic foreground – how melody and bass coexist as one and alternate as individuals. It is impossible to miss that predominantly the variations are about the melody, while the introduction (‘col Basso del Tema’, as Beethoven describes it) and the subject of the fugue a tre are about the bass. When both are united, as in the closing pages (a resumption of the slow variation before the fugue that Beethoven was to turn to again for the ‘Eroica’), the combined tension they generate can be simply enormous.

Op 35 is a singular masterpiece: an extraordinary composite of passacaglia, chaconne, variation, fugue, canon, dance, aria, fantasy … a towering edifice of pianistic bravura, of orchestral allusion, of vocal suggestion … a teasing study in the intercourse of modes major, minor and unisonal …

from notes by Ates Orga © 1989

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