12 вариаций для фортепиано на тему "Menuet a la Vigano" из балета Якоба Гейбеля "La nozza disturbate", WoO 68

Время создания: 1795 г.
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Михаил Плетнёв (фортепиано)

Haibel's opera Le nozze disturbate featured the "Menuet a la Vigano", whose theme attracted Beethoven, not just for its melodic appeal but for its potential yield in a set of variations. He wrote many such works for piano around this time and on up into the early 1800s. In fact, in 1795 he wrote at least two other sets of variations based on themes in popular operas of the day: Nine Variations for Piano, in A major, on Paisiello's "Quant e Piu Bello", WoO. 69, and Six Variations, in G major, on the duet "Nel cor piu non mi sento" from La molinara, WoO. 70. The Eight Variations for piano, in C major, on Gretry's "Une fievre brulante", WoO. 72, may also have come from 1795.

This set of variations on Haibel's "Menuet a la Vigano" is based on a perky theme of some appeal, though parts of it reiterate in a way that gives its melodic character a certain predictability, if not triteness. But Beethoven takes it and immediately adds some depth-albeit not profundity-in the first several variations by increasing the tempo and drawing on the theme's potential for color. The third variation is lively and quite humorous, the fourth serious and dark. The next is playful, exploiting the effect of contrast to the fullest.

The seventh is march-like and serious, similar in mood to the fourth and one of the longer variations here. The next several are lively and brilliant, the ninth being a particularly outstanding entry.

When musicologists write about this set of variations, they usually talk about the last two, and especially the twelfth. Both are splendid examples of canonic writing, and the last variation is one of Beethoven's finest and most colorful in any of his early works in the genre, not least because of its stunning display of fireworks.

This composition was first published in Vienna in 1796. Among his early efforts in the piano variation genre, it is one of the composer's longest, typically lasting around fifteen minutes.

(Robert Cummings)

Published on February 27, 1796 by Artaria in Vienna, the Variations in C major on "Menuett a la Vigano" from Haibel's Le nozze disturbate, WoO. 68, bear no dedication. Jakob Haibel was a singer and actor at Emanuel Schikaneder's Theater auf der Wieden from around 1789. Haibel's ballet-pantomime, Le nozze disturbate, oder Die unterbrochene Hochzeit (The Interrupted Wedding), was one of his first works for the stage, premiering on May 18, 1795 and playing at least thirty-nine times that year. Beethoven attempted to capitalize on the work's success by composing a set of variations on one of its numbers, "Menuett a la Vigano," in 1795.

Haibel's theme, in C major, is in two parts, and boasts three harmonies: C, G and F major. The second half of the theme concentrates on the dominant, G major, before closing with a return to the first part. In the first variation, Beethoven immediately makes the most of Haibel's eighth-note pickups by imparting to the theme a continuous eighth-note rhythm in the first half and inverting the second half. Beethoven increases the speed in No. 2 as the tune is lost among flights of fancy and chromatic inflections. Right-hand octaves trace the theme more clearly in No. 3 as Beethoven increases the pathos in the minor variation (No. 4) with the addition of D flats and G flats that fall by half step. Harmony is about all that is left of the theme in the fifth variation while the decorative triplets of the sixth help trace its outline. The compact seventh variation returns to C minor, its loud close contrasting with the ensuing light and delicate variation. The ninth and tenth continue the highly decorative variation technique; the tenth includes a flashy crossing of the hands. Variation No. 11 is as much an expansion of No. 4 as it is of the theme, and the lengthy No. 12 incorporates most of the techniques employed in the preceding variations, closing with a transparent, contemplative Adagio passage.

(All Music Guide)


  • 1. Sketches for the Piano Variations WoO 68

    In addition to some unidentified sketches this sketch leaf contains some for the Piano Variations WoO 68. Beethoven's handwriting still bears the marks of his "youthful handwriting" prior to 1800. The paper is one of the makes he often used between 1795 and 1799. The leaf can be more closely dated on account of the contents. The theme of the Twelve Variations for Piano WoO 68 is the minuet "a la Vigano" from the ballet "Le nozze disturbate". Mozart's brother-in-law Jakob Haibel composed the music for it and the ballet was performed on 18 May 1795. The minuet was very popular with people at the time and other composers also wrote variations on it. The original edition of Beethoven's variations was published in February 1796 by the Viennese publisher Artaria. Thus the sketch leaf must have been produced after 18 May 1795 and before February 1796. If one now takes into account that each print run requires certain production times (typesetting, time for corrections etc.) and that a sketch is made before a finished composition, it is very probable that this leaf was used in 1795.