Brendel has now recorded the work three times for the gramophone. At first, on Vox/Turnabout in the early 1960s, he was the brilliant iconoclast before his deeper realization of the work's essentially comic energies. And here I use 'comic' both in the narrow sense of the term (the Diabe/li is, after all, full ofjokes, many of them with the staying-power of the finest Wildean epigrams) and in the broader sense: what Susanne Langer has called, comedy "as an image of human vitality holding its own in the world amid the surprises of unplanned coincidence".
ECM New Series is better known for its documentation of contemporary works, but the music of the past sometimes receives coverage when artists bring a new perspective to it. The Diabelli Variations, Op. 120; the Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111; and the Six Bagatelles, Op. 126, are among the most original and intellectually stimulating works Ludwig van Beethoven composed for the piano, and the sophisticated interpretations of András Schiff are especially worthwhile for their insights into authentic performance practice and reception. Here, Schiff gives the listener options between a relatively modern sounding version of the Diabelli Variations and a period interpretation, without favoring one or the other.