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Igor Levit|On DSCH

On DSCH

Igor Levit

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Igor Levit knows no half measures - it’s either all in or nothing. In 2019, he recorded Beethoven's complete 32 piano sonatas for Sony Classical; in 2020, he played the longest work in music history in concert - Eric Satie's 18-hour long Vexations; and then there were his daily concerts from his home during the first lockdown. Now comes a new musical extreme. With On DSCH, Levit embraces the 20th century, his own Russian roots, and turns to two composers who, like him, were much more than just musicians. The album is divided into two parts: It includes the complete 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, by Shostakovich, complemented by Ronald Stevenson's homage to the Russian master, Passacaglia on DSCH. Levit acknowledges this connection and bridges the gap between these two artists with a project that leaves the listener breathless. As his friend and musicologist Anselm Cybinski would say, "nothing less than 360° totality."


When Shostakovich heard the Well-Tempered Clavier in Leipzig in 1950, on the 200th anniversary of Bach’s death, he shortly thereafter decided to compose a modern equivalent. Unlike Bach, his 24 preludes and fugues are arranged in a circle of fifths rather than chromatically. His pieces focus less on complex compositional and formal features and more on the versatility of motifs as well as inner expression at a time when the composer was still struggling under Stalinism. Ten years later, Stevenson, a native of Scotland, composed Passacaglia on DSCH, a political statement at the height of the Cold War. Stevenson refers directly to Shostakovich by using the monogram D-S-C-H, which his elder (whose name is spelt ‘Schostakowitsch’ in German) had himself incorporated into several of his works. Throughout his nearly hour-long work, Stevenson explores the Russian composer’s leitmotif in a new and expanded way, and his variations build on each other, creating a kind of ‘perpetual motion’.


One could argue that this ever-turning musical wheel is Levit’s trademark. With incredible stamina, sustained energy and enormous dynamic and tonal flexibility, he gives each moment its own meaning, whether it be the powerful and mystical Passacaglia of Prelude No. 12 in G sharp minor or the much more provocative and almost dance-like Fugue No.15 in D flat major. Levit manages to unite these two extremes of Shostakovich’s work not only musically but also intellectually, but Stevenson is not to be outdone here: a work dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust (something which Levit also considers as one of his great callings in life), the Dies Irae that concludes the vast Triple Fugue Over Ground Bass is indusputably one of the other highlights of this triple CD. © Lena Germann/Qobuz

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On DSCH

Igor Levit

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24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87 (Dimitri Chostakovitch)

1
Prelude No. 1 in C Major
00:02:37

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

2
Fugue No. 1 in C Major
00:02:32

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

3
Prelude No. 2 in A Minor
00:00:53

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

4
Fugue No. 2 in A Minor
00:01:26

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

5
Prelude No. 3 in G Major
00:01:49

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

6
Fugue No. 3 in G Major
00:01:51

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

7
Prelude No. 4 in E Minor
00:02:57

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

8
Fugue No. 4 in E Minor
00:04:45

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

9
Prelude No. 5 in D Major
00:01:28

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

10
Fugue No. 5 in D Major
00:01:48

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

11
Prelude No. 6 in B Minor
00:01:54

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

12
Fugue No. 6 in B Minor
00:04:57

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

13
Prelude No. 7 in A Major
00:01:13

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

14
Fugue No. 7 in A Major
00:02:11

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

15
Prelude No. 8 in F-Sharp Minor
00:01:12

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

16
Fugue No. 8 in F-Sharp Minor
00:07:11

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

17
Prelude No. 9 in E Major
00:02:06

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

18
Fugue No. 9 in E Major
00:01:36

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

19
Prelude No. 10 in C-Sharp Minor
00:02:10

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

20
Fugue No. 10 in C-Sharp Minor
00:05:27

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

21
Prelude No. 11 in B Major
00:01:05

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

22
Fugue No. 11 in B Major
00:02:00

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

23
Prelude No. 12 in G-Sharp Minor
00:04:31

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

24
Fugue No. 12 in G-Sharp Minor
00:03:45

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

DISC 2

1
Prelude No. 13 in F-Sharp Major
00:02:27

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

2
Fugue No. 13 in F-Sharp Major
00:04:45

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

3
Prelude No. 14 in E-Flat Minor
00:04:08

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

4
Fugue No. 14 in E-Flat Minor
00:02:44

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

5
Prelude No. 15 in D-Flat Major
00:02:34

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

6
Fugue No. 15 in D-Flat Major
00:01:33

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

7
Prelude No. 16 in B-Flat Minor
00:02:38

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

8
Fugue No. 16 in B-Flat Minor
00:07:29

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

9
Prelude No. 17 in A-Flat Major
00:01:39

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

10
Fugue No. 17 in A-Flat Major
00:03:40

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

11
Prelude No. 18 in F Minor
00:02:09

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

12
Fugue No. 18 in F Minor
00:03:03

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

13
Prelude No. 19 in E-Flat Major
00:02:15

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

14
Fugue No. 19 in E-Flat Major
00:02:26

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

15
Prelude No. 20 in C Minor
00:04:03

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

16
Fugue No. 20 in C Minor
00:05:12

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

17
Prelude No. 21 in B-Flat Major
00:01:16

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

18
Fugue No. 21 in B-Flat Major
00:02:42

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

19
Prelude No. 22 in G Minor
00:02:00

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

20
Fugue No. 22 in G Minor
00:03:12

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

21
Prelude No. 23 in F Major
00:02:24

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

22
Fugue No. 23 in F Major
00:04:02

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

23
Prelude No. 24 in D Minor
00:04:11

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

24
Fugue No. 24 in D Minor
00:09:23

Dmitri Shostakovich, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

DISC 3

Passacaglia on DSCH (Ronald Stevenson)

1
Pars Prima: Sonata allegro
00:06:37

Ronald Stevenson, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

2
Pars Prima: Waltz in rondo-form
00:02:19

Ronald Stevenson, Composer - Igor Levit, Piano, MainArtist - Andreas Neubronner, Producer, Recording Engineer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

Igor Levit knows no half measures - it’s either all in or nothing. In 2019, he recorded Beethoven's complete 32 piano sonatas for Sony Classical; in 2020, he played the longest work in music history in concert - Eric Satie's 18-hour long Vexations; and then there were his daily concerts from his home during the first lockdown. Now comes a new musical extreme. With On DSCH, Levit embraces the 20th century, his own Russian roots, and turns to two composers who, like him, were much more than just musicians. The album is divided into two parts: It includes the complete 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, by Shostakovich, complemented by Ronald Stevenson's homage to the Russian master, Passacaglia on DSCH. Levit acknowledges this connection and bridges the gap between these two artists with a project that leaves the listener breathless. As his friend and musicologist Anselm Cybinski would say, "nothing less than 360° totality."


When Shostakovich heard the Well-Tempered Clavier in Leipzig in 1950, on the 200th anniversary of Bach’s death, he shortly thereafter decided to compose a modern equivalent. Unlike Bach, his 24 preludes and fugues are arranged in a circle of fifths rather than chromatically. His pieces focus less on complex compositional and formal features and more on the versatility of motifs as well as inner expression at a time when the composer was still struggling under Stalinism. Ten years later, Stevenson, a native of Scotland, composed Passacaglia on DSCH, a political statement at the height of the Cold War. Stevenson refers directly to Shostakovich by using the monogram D-S-C-H, which his elder (whose name is spelt ‘Schostakowitsch’ in German) had himself incorporated into several of his works. Throughout his nearly hour-long work, Stevenson explores the Russian composer’s leitmotif in a new and expanded way, and his variations build on each other, creating a kind of ‘perpetual motion’.


One could argue that this ever-turning musical wheel is Levit’s trademark. With incredible stamina, sustained energy and enormous dynamic and tonal flexibility, he gives each moment its own meaning, whether it be the powerful and mystical Passacaglia of Prelude No. 12 in G sharp minor or the much more provocative and almost dance-like Fugue No.15 in D flat major. Levit manages to unite these two extremes of Shostakovich’s work not only musically but also intellectually, but Stevenson is not to be outdone here: a work dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust (something which Levit also considers as one of his great callings in life), the Dies Irae that concludes the vast Triple Fugue Over Ground Bass is indusputably one of the other highlights of this triple CD. © Lena Germann/Qobuz

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