When composer and music publisher Antonio Diabelli invited a number of Viennese composers to write variations to a modest waltz theme of his own creation, no doubt he had little idea how the theme would be treated by Beethoven—and certainly not if he knew that Beethoven initially referred the waltz scornfully as a “Schusterfleck”—”cobbler’s patch”—for its bland repetitiveness. But Beethoven’s initial scorn somehow turned into creative frenzy, and he eventually ignored Diabelli’s request for a single variation, producing 33—nearly an hour’s worth of music. Diabelli published Beethoven’s masterful Op. 120 in 1823. The single variations of the remaining 49 composers—of which Melvin Chen performs examples by Hummel, Liszt, Schubert, Czerny, Moscheles and Kalkbrenner on this recording—were published separately in 1824.
His Diabelli easily qualifies for that rarefied niche of performances that can be termed ‘classic’.American Record Guide