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Favorite set of Variations???


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The Beethoven variations in C minor are definitely up there (as well as his Diabelli variations).

My absolute favorite set of variations though is by a lesser known (and in my opinion, incredibly underrated) French pianist-composer, Charles-Valentin Alkan, his "etude" Le Festin D'Esope where each variation is supposed to represent animal from Aesop's fables.

Here's a version with the sheet music.

 

Though, this is the best overall performance of these variations in my opinion:

 

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The 32 Variations in C minor is up there, definitely. I've heard that it's like a Baroque Chaconne(Variations on the melody over a repeated, usually short bass). But my favorites would have to include the 18 variations on the Ode to Joy theme of Beethoven's Ninth that I so carefully timestamped in the comments of this video and got a lot of thanks for:

In fact, most of the Theme and Variations I have heard have been in the form of either symphony movements(Beethoven 3 and 9(both in the Finale after an intense start)), concerto movements(Mozart PC 24(Andante movement) and HC 2(the Rondo of HC 2 essentially is a Theme and Variations in disguise)), or Chaconnes of Bach and Pachelbel, and not an isolated Theme and Variations labeled such(although a few I listened to are like that including 32 Variations in C minor by Beethoven and 12 Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star by Mozart).

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There's a few variation sets I've been enjoying as of late (mostly Slavic in origin), here are some of them:

Vasyl Barvinsky - Variations for piano sextet: 

Vissarion Shebalin - Piano Trio, mvt. 3: 

Anton Arensky - Variations On a Theme by Tchaikovsky (from String Quartet no. 2, mvt. 2): 

 

Boris Lyatoshynsky - Piano Trio no. 2, mvt. 4: 

 

I also like the Beethoven C minor variations, they are probably the most quintessential of all variations. But these are just some I think are also really great, and really creative.

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