Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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While it is Steibelt’s fate to be remembered above all as the man who dared to challenge Beethoven and paid the price, for a quarter of a century he was fêted throughout northern Europe as one of the newly fashionable breed of keyboard lions. Born in Berlin of mixed parentage (his mother was French, his German father a keyboard manufacturer), he studied with the famous composer–theorist Johann Kirnberger, who had once been taught by J S Bach in Leipzig. He then joined the Prussian army, at his father’s insistence, and within a year had deserted to pursue an itinerant career as a pianist, taking care to keep well clear of Berlin. Settling in revolutionary Paris in 1790, Steibelt forged a reputation as a composer–pianist, promoting himself via a prodigious output of keyboard sonatas, potboilers—waltzes, bacchanals, divertissements and the like—and, from 1796, a series of eight keyboard concertos. Steibelt seems to have been a difficult man to like, at least in his younger days. Contemporary reports suggest he was vain, arrogant and ostentatiously extravagant, with a habit of disingenuously passing off old works as new. Yet at his peak he carried all before him with the vote-catching brilliance of his playing.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2016