Recital, Variations on a Diabelli waltz by L. Van Beethoven

Friday 17 November at 7.00 pm

Concert celebrating the release of the album "les 33 Variations on a waltz by Diabelli, opus 120, performed by George Lepauw


Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude and Fugue

Clara Wieck-Schumann: Prelude and Fugue

Stéphane Delplace: Prelude and Fugue

Ludwig van Beethoven: 33 Variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli, Opus 120

The 33 Variations on a waltz by Diabelli by L. van Beethoven

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the "Diabelli Variations", Orchid Classics has teamed up with the International Beethoven Project and the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, Germany, to present a major recording of this deeply moving masterpiece. 33 Variations on a waltz by Diabelli, opus 120, performed by Georges Lepauw and released on 27 October.

George Lepauw's radical interpretation of the 'Diabelli Variations', twenty minutes longer than the standard versions, was born of a profound reflection on the original German title. Beethoven chose the word 'Veränderungen', rather than the more common term 'Variationen', the meaning of which can be understood as 'transformations' as well as 'variations'. It seems likely that the composer wanted to convey the extent to which he had transformed the raw material of each of his variations into something infinitely richer. Lepauw was also inspired by his study of Beethoven's original sketches and manuscript, preserved just two metres beneath the Steinway piano he used for this album, on the site of the composer's birthplace, the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, which houses the largest archive of Beethoven's original manuscripts, letters and personal effects, as well as BTHVN2020, the official German society responsible for coordinating and publicising the year of Beethoven's 250th birthday in 2020.

"Beethoven pokes fun and mocks, demonstrates his diabolical virtuosity, his ability to speed up and slow down, to proclaim loudly and also to whisper inaudibly, all the while acknowledging his profound solitude," observes Lepauw. "He proves his ability to match Bach and Handel in his fugues and Mozart in his eminently celestial final minuet. If we weren't aware of historical chronologies, we'd even say that he found inspiration in Chopin and Brahms, and maybe even Debussy!

In addition to the CD release of this album, a new spatial audio version of the album will be released on Apple Music, for an even more special listening experience.

George Lepauw is a Franco-American pianist who was born and raised in Paris and lived for many years in the United States. He decided to move back to France shortly before the pandemic in order to reconnect with his native country. In recent years, he has devoted a great deal of energy to his recording and film work. He has recorded the complete Well-tempered keyboard by Bach and Preludes by Debussy. His interpretation of Diabelli Variations will be published at the end of 2023 to mark the bicentenary of this masterpiece. All his projects are also filmed.

Regularly hailed by the critics, George Lepauw was named Citizen of the Year by the Chicago Tribune in 2012, which described him as a "prodigious pianist"; the New York Times recognised his "singing sound"; and his Bach and Debussy albums were judged "exceptional" by BBC Music Magazine and Piano News Magazine (Germany).

Faithful to the idea, like Beethoven, that music is a mystical force that can bring humanity together, George Lepauw performs as much in large halls as in private salons throughout the world. He has also been a festival director (Chicago's Beethoven Festival, Chicago International Music & Movies Festival), experimenting with different ways of presenting music so that all audiences can enjoy it. As well as performing, his passion for transmitting music is expressed through teaching, masterclasses and writing numerous articles for the music press and for his own website.

Born into a family of musicians (his father was a violinist with the Orchestre de Paris and his grandfather was principal viola with the Orchestre de l'Opéra de Paris and the Orchestre de Paris), George Lepauw began his musical studies at the Rachmaninoff Conservatoire in Paris. He then benefited from the teaching of Aïda Barenboim, Elena Varvarova, Brigitte Engerer, Rena Shereshevskaya, Vladimir Krainev, Eteri Andjaparidze, James Giles, Ursula Oppens, Earl Wild, and was guided and supported by great names in classical music including Carlo-Maria Giulini, Maria Curcio, and Charles Rosen. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (History and Literature) in Washington and Northwestern University Conservatory in Chicago.

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