Nicanor Zabaleta plays the Variations on a Swiss air, WoO 64

I have admired the Spanish harpist Nicanor Zabaleta ever since I discovered in the old record collection of my father his performances of Handel’s Concerto op.4 nr.6 (with the great Grandjany cadenza in the slow movement) and Debussy’s Danses Sacrées et Profanes (Ferenc Fricsay conducting, DGG LPE 17115). These recordings are for me still the best I know of these pieces, although I’m fully aware that purists will object to the ‘unhistoric reading’ of the Handel concerto.

Therefore I was very pleased when the other day, on YouTube, I stumbled across Zabaleta’s recording of Beethoven’s seldom heard variations on a Swiss air, WoO 64. Of course, even a Zabaleta cannot make more of this piece than what it is, but I do think it sounds much better on harp than on a Steinway. It also demonstrates that truly great musicians are always on the lookout for new and unheard works, because they know that the confrontation with the unknown is of vital importance for the musical experience.

bartje11 has diligently added Beethoven’s autograph score to the video. Thanks bartje, nice job !

For those who are yearning to hear the complete Handel Concerto played by Zabaleta, here are the two remaining movements :
Handel : Harp Concerto : Mvm.1
Handel : Harp Concerto : Mvm.3