Время создания: 1798 г.
Variation 9: Adagio
Variation 10: Adagio
Variation 11: Poco adagio, quasi andante
Variation 12: Allegro
By the end of his life, Beethoven had composed nearly seventy sets of variations. Most of the early ones were based on themes by other composers and were not given opus numbers, which Beethoven reserved for what he considered more substantial, important works. Beethoven composed his variations on "Ein Madchen oder Weibchen," Op. 66, in the wake of a surge in popularity of Mozart's works in the years following his death. They were first published in September 1798 by Traeg in Vienna; after they were taken over by Artaria, they were designated "Opus 66."
The variations of Op. 66 are in the decorative, high Classical style and maintain the harmonic movement of the theme. We find none of the probing of tonal relationships of the Variations in F major, Op. 34, and none of the multiplicity of material to be varied of the Variations in E flat, Op. 35. What we do find is a virtuosity and control unparalleled in Beethoven's earlier works. Also, the variations are notable in that Beethoven had few examples on which to model his compositions for the unusual combination of cello and piano.
Beethoven combines the melodies of two contrasting sections in the original aria to create one lengthy theme, the second half of which (setting the words "Dann schmeckte mir Trinken und Essen…" in the original aria) is changed from 6/8 to 2/4 time. This entire theme is outlined in a highly decorated fashion in the first variation, for piano alone. In the second variation, the piano provides the decorative elements, both melodic and harmonic, while the cello provides a close reading of the theme. Variation No. 4 is notable for its division of material between the two instruments, while the imitative passages in No. 5 contrast moments of maximum independence between the instruments with those of homorhythmic playing. Only the harmonic progression and basic outline remain of the theme in the seventh, eighth and ninth variations; the tenth, in F minor, features a return of the dotted rhythms of No. 5. The cello part is at its most lyrical in Variation No. 11, also in F minor and marked "Poco Adagio." With the twelfth variation comes a shift from 2/4 to 3/4 and an extended, harmonically adventurous coda.
(John Palmer, Rovi)
Based on the aria "Ein Madchen oder Weibchen" from The Magic Flute, this set of 12 variations, in F, was written at about the same time as Beethoven's variations on Handel, WoO 45, but are far more compelling and important, particularly the last three. Variation ten in F minor is so far evolved and structured that it could stand alone as a slow movement to a sonata, and the 12th is a highly effective, charming fantasia. The most advancement, however, is shown in the 11th variation, which is so Romantic and sweeping it could be mistaken for the music of Mendelssohn or Schubert.
(All Music Guide)