The "original theme" from Beethoven's Op. 76 set of piano variations (1809) is the same one that later became more famous as the "Turkish March" from the composer's incidental music to The Ruins of Athens (1811). The capricious, throbbing tune in its original piano form isn't obviously Turkish or a march, but it doesn't seem intended to be taken entirely seriously. The first variation is all music-box tinkling. The next blurts out pieces of the main tune, answering the fragments with busy figurations. A more sedate variation is centered high in the treble. Then comes a mercurial treatment, with the theme rumbling in the bass and answered by downward runs from the top of the keyboard. Next the theme is stripped to its essentials and then wrapped up in a great deal of right-hand frippery. The last variation is fast, bright, and aggressive. Beethoven changes to triple meter and reduces the number of measures devoted to the first half of the theme to four; the second half, however, is doubled in length. The shape of the theme returns, including its upward leap of an octave in the second measure. In the repeat of the second half, Beethoven's writing becomes more like that for a development section in a sonata movement than for a variation. The music passes through several key areas and fragments of previous variations appear. Beethoven may have felt this to be the most important section of the entire set, for he directed that it be played twice. The set ends with a short repeat of the "Turkish" tune, and a brief coda. ~ James Reel, Rovi
Святослав Рихтер, Carnegie Hall, 5 апреля 1970.