Variations
Title:

Variations

Artists:
Release Date:

24th March 2023

Cat No:

AV2569

Price:

£12.99

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Summary:

Beethoven wrote in his diary that he wanted “to show the British what a treasure they have in God Save the King”, a reference to his set of variations on the national anthem, composed in 1803. Sarah Beth Briggs recorded the virtuoso set precisely one month before the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022, and the recording heralds the coronation of King Charles III in May 2023.

The lesser-known Variations on an Original Theme in F major (1802) represent Beethoven the revolutionary. Uniquely, each variation was written in a different key, the dramatic effect of which would have startled the composer’s contemporaries.

Sarah Beth Briggs’ collection of Variations underlines a lineage of the genre through the classical and romantic eras. Opening the programme is 9 Variations on a Minuet by Duport by Mozart, whom Beethoven greatly admired. The work takes a theme by cellist Jean-Pierre Duport, chamber music director of the court of the Prussian King, Friedrich Wilhelm II, from whom the composer hoped to gain favour. Mendelssohn’s Variations Serieuses was written as a tribute to Beethoven, and was included in an album of works that raised funds for the now famous bronze statue of Beethoven in Bonn. Mendelssohn’s near contemporary Brahms paid tribute to his troubled friend Robert Schumann, using a melody from Bunte Blätter (“Colourful Leaves”) in his poignant Variations on a Theme by Schumann.

Tracklist:

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756–1791)
9 Variations K.573 on a Minuet by Jean-Pierre Duport
1. Tema 1.25
2. Var. I 1.12
3. Var. II 1.15
4. Var. III 1.21
5. Var. IV 1.28
6. Var. V 1.38
7. Var. VI 1.47
8. Var. VII 1.09
9. Var. VIII: Adagio 2.04
10. Var. IX – Allegro – Tempo primo 2.08

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
7 Variations WoO 78 on ‘God Save the King’
11. Tema 1.07
12. Var. I 0.50
13. Var. II 0.46
14. Var. III 0.52
15. Var. IV 0.53
16. Var. V: Con espressione 1.21
17. Var. VI: Allegro. Alla marcia 1.03
18. Var. VII – [Allegro] – Adagio – Allegro 2.36

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN
6 Variations on an original theme in F Op.34
19. Tema: Adagio. Cantabile 1.39
20. Var. I 1.53
21. Var. II: Allegro, ma non troppo 1.08
22 Var. III: Allegretto 1.14
23. Var. IV: Tempo di Menuetto 1.50
24. Var. V: Marcia. Allegretto 2.22
25. Var. VI – Allegretto – Adagio molto 5.06

FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809–1847)
Variations sérieuses Op.54 MWV U 156
26. Theme: Andante sostenuto 0.45
27. Var. I 0.34
28. Var. II: Un poco più animato 0.32
29. Var. III: Più animato 0.23
30. Var. IV 0.23
31. Var. V: Agitato 0.29
32. Var. VI: A tempo 0.26
33. Var. VII 0.26
34. Var. VIII: Allegro vivace 0.20
35. Var. IX 0.26
36. Var. X: Moderato 0.48
37. Var. XI 0.45
38. Var. XII: Tempo di Tema 0.41
39. Var. XIII 0.56
40. Var. XIV: Adagio 1.18
41. Var. XV: Poco a poco più agitato 0.30
42. Var. XVI: Allegro vivace 0.21
43. Var. XVII: [Allegro vivace] – Presto 2.57

JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833–1897)
Variations in F sharp minor Op.9 on a theme by Robert Schumann
44. Tema: Ziemlich langsam 1.16
45. Var. I 1.19
46. Var. II: Poco più moto 0.29
47. Var. III: Tempo di tema 1.11
48. Var. IV: Poco più moto 0.44
49. Var. V: Allegro capriccioso 0.53
50. Var. VI: Allegro 0.56
51. Var. VII: Andante 1.04
52. Var. VIII: Andante (non troppo lento) 1.48
53. Var. IX: Schnell 0.40
54. Var. X: Poco adagio 2.41
55. Var. XI: Un poco più animato 0.45
56. Var. XII: Allegretto, poco scherzando 0.46
57. Var. XIII: Non troppo presto 0.35
58. Var. XIV: Andante 1.09
59. Var. XV: Poco adagio 2.0
60. Var. XVI: [Adagio] 2.53

Sarah Beth Briggs, piano

 This recording at the Wyastone Concert Hall was made possible with support from The Nimbus Foundation, registered charity number 802708. www.wyastone.co.uk/nimbus-foundation | Sarah Beth Briggs is also very grateful to two major sponsors who wish to remain anonymous. Piano: Wyastone Steinway model D tuned by Gavin Crooks.
Recorded: 8–10 August 2022, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, UK | Producer, Engineer & Editor: Jonathan Stokes
Performance Editions: Bärenreiter/Henle (Mozart); Henle (Beethoven-WoO 78, Mendelssohn, Brahms); Wiener Urtext (Beethoven-Op.34)

 

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