Hyperion Records

Variations on an original theme in A flat major, D813
composer
summer 1824; Zseliz

Recordings
'Schubert: Piano Duets' (CDA67665)
Schubert: Piano Duets
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67665 
Details
Track 5 on CDA67665 [17'32]

Variations on an original theme in A flat major, D813
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The Variations in A flat major, D813, were composed in Zseliz in the summer of 1824, around the same time as the most ambitious of all Schubert’s piano duets, the Grand Duo D812. Reporting from Zseliz to his artist friend Moritz von Schwind, Schubert told him that the new variations had been greeted with particular applause there. ‘But as I don’t quite trust the Hungarians’ taste’, Schubert added, ‘I shall leave it to you and the Viennese to decide about them.’

Schubert’s variation theme is a march whose salient features are an unexpected turn to C minor at the end of its first half, and the canonic imitation of the melodic line at the start of the second half. Both these characteristics leave a mark on the eight variations that follow. The third of them transforms the theme’s march rhythm into Schubert’s favoured dactylic pattern (one long note followed by two short), with the melody given out in contrapuntal dialogue by the primo player, while the secondo has a pulsating inner voice and a delicate pizzicato bass-line. The same rhythm pervades Variation 5—a melancholy and deeply expressive piece in the minor (the turn to the minor at the close of the original theme’s first half is now replaced with a corresponding change to the major); but even more haunting is the penultimate variation, whose chromatic harmonies convey an infinite sense of longing. This time the music turns not to C minor at the end of the first half, but to C major, in a passionate outburst of overwhelming effect. The extended final variation brings with it a change in metre that allows the work to come to a brilliant conclusion.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2010

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67665 track 5
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-10-66505
Duration
17'32
Recording date
14 February 2010
Recording venue
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: Piano Duets (CDA67665)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: November 2010
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