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Igor Levit|Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte

Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte

Igor Levit

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One might not expect an album of Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte ("Songs Without Words") from pianist Igor Levit, whose offerings generally run to Beethoven or to ambitious concept albums. However, a look at the graphics and its striking Star of David pendant indicates what is happening. Levit intends the album as a memorial for the October 7th attacks in Israel, after which he had struggled for some weeks. Says Levit: "I made this recording out of a very, very strong inner necessity. I spent the first four or five weeks after the attack on October 7th in a mixture of speechlessness and total paralysis. And at some point, it became clear that I had no other tools than to react as an artist. I have the piano. I have my music." Proceeds from the album will be donated to German organizations combating anti-Semitism. As for the music itself, Levit strikes a tone of remarkable gravity. Mendelssohn isn't usually his thing, and he says he chose the Lieder ohne Worte for a melancholy he found in them. He doesn't mention Mendelssohn's Jewish background, but it fits into his effort. The album ends with a Prelude by another Jewish composer, Charles-Valentin Alkan, that has quite a haunting effect. The Mendelssohn pieces are carefully controlled and sober. Even apart from the tragic circumstances that gave birth to it, this album is something of a landmark in the performance of Mendelssohn's piano music.

© James Manheim /TiVo

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Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte

Igor Levit

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Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19b (Felix Mendelssohn)

1
No. 1 in E Major. Andante con moto, MWV U 86
00:02:47

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

2
No. 2 in A Minor. Andante espressivo, MWV U 80
00:02:31

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

3
No. 4 in A Major. Moderato, MWV U 73
00:01:39

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

4
No. 6 in G Minor. Andante sostenuto, MWV U 78 "Venetian Gondola Song"
00:02:16

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 30 (Felix Mendelssohn)

5
No. 1 in E-Flat Major. Andante espressivo, MWV U 103
00:03:58

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

6
No. 3 in E Major. Adagio non troppo, MWV U 104
00:02:12

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

7
No. 6 in F-Sharp Minor. Allegretto tranquillo, MWV U 110 "Venetian Gondola Song"
00:03:22

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 38 (Felix Mendelssohn)

8
No. 2 in C Minor. Allegro non troppo, MWV U 115
00:01:49

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

9
No. 6 in A-Flat Major. Andante con moto, MWV U 119 "Duetto"
00:02:18

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 53 (Felix Mendelssohn)

10
No. 4 in F Major. Adagio, MWV U 114 "Sadness of Soul"
00:02:30

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

11
No. 5 in A Minor. Allegro con fuoco, MWV U 153 "Folksong"
00:02:31

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 62 (Felix Mendelssohn)

12
No. 3 in E Minor. Andante maestoso, MWV U 117 "Funeral March"
00:03:18

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

13
No. 5 in A Minor. Andante con moto, MWV U 151 "Venetian Gondola Song"
00:02:45

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

14
Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 102, No. 1 in E Minor. Andante un poco agitato, MWV U 162
00:03:40

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

15
25 Préludes, Op.31: No. 8, La chanson de la folle au bord de la mer
00:05:44

Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Charles Valentin Alkan, Composer - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2023 Igor Levit, under exclusive license to Sony Classical, a label of Sony Music Entertainment

Album review

One might not expect an album of Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte ("Songs Without Words") from pianist Igor Levit, whose offerings generally run to Beethoven or to ambitious concept albums. However, a look at the graphics and its striking Star of David pendant indicates what is happening. Levit intends the album as a memorial for the October 7th attacks in Israel, after which he had struggled for some weeks. Says Levit: "I made this recording out of a very, very strong inner necessity. I spent the first four or five weeks after the attack on October 7th in a mixture of speechlessness and total paralysis. And at some point, it became clear that I had no other tools than to react as an artist. I have the piano. I have my music." Proceeds from the album will be donated to German organizations combating anti-Semitism. As for the music itself, Levit strikes a tone of remarkable gravity. Mendelssohn isn't usually his thing, and he says he chose the Lieder ohne Worte for a melancholy he found in them. He doesn't mention Mendelssohn's Jewish background, but it fits into his effort. The album ends with a Prelude by another Jewish composer, Charles-Valentin Alkan, that has quite a haunting effect. The Mendelssohn pieces are carefully controlled and sober. Even apart from the tragic circumstances that gave birth to it, this album is something of a landmark in the performance of Mendelssohn's piano music.

© James Manheim /TiVo

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