Recorded last month and first streamed on Wigmore’s Hall’s website on Monday February 1, 2021

Four chips off the Beethovenian block were central to Cédric Tiberghien’s programme, each WoO (Werke ohne Opuszahl) set of Variations based on an operatic source (Winter, Paisiello twice, and Süssmayr). If not in the league of the C-minor, Diabelli or Eroica collections, they all proved lively, sometimes deeper in response, and always engaging, ear-tickling and unfailingly inventive (with surprises in store) – played by Tiberghien with verve and consideration.

Beethoven also appeared in the first of the bookending Schumann selections, a rhapsodic/musing/discursive commentary on the second movement of Symphony 7, the Allegretto theme of which gradually embeds itself into the later composer’s musical fabric. To close, the ghost-written Variations (the idea for which came to the mentally-fragile Schumann in a dream, he said) that veer between the sublime and the otherworldly … deeply personal … haunting … rapt rendition.

Coming at the halfway point of Beethoven’s foursome, to contrast the general frivolity, was Webern’s Variations (1936), complex, intellectually stimulating music in which every note has rigorous significance, whether in angularly beautiful expression or emotional outbursts – you can hear the influence this work had on Boulez’s piano music (such as Notations and the three Sonatas). Tiberghien had the measure of the Austrian’s Opus 27, giving it life and appeal.

This seventy-minute, without-audience, recital was played through without a break and proved enlightening. Good sound.

  • Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
      • Etudes in Variation Form on a Theme by Beethoven WoO. 31
  • Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
      • 7 Variations on the Quartet ‘Kind, willst du ruhig schlafen’ WoO. 75
      • 9 Variations on the Aria ‘Quant’ è più bello’ from Paisiello’s La molinara WoO. 69
  • Anton Webern (1883-1945)
      • Variations Op. 27
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
      • 6 Variations on the Duet ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ from La molinara WoO. 70
      • 8 Variations on the Trio ‘Tändeln und Scherzen’ WoO. 76 
  • Robert Schumann
      • Geistervariationen WoO. 24