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Solo Piano - Released October 5, 2018 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Pianist Igor Levit moved from Russia to Germany when he was eight, but there's still a lot of Russian in his outlook: an attraction to the pure virtuoso tradition, and a tendency toward big statements and the big questions. Nowhere has this been more true than on Life, an album that succeeds both thematically and as a thrilling embodiment of late-Romantic pianism at its best. The title, and the contents, refer to the album's memorial function: Levit chose the program to honor a close artist friend who died in an accident. The music is monumental enough to live up to its death-haunted theme, rising out of silence in the Fantasia after J.S. Bach of Busoni and continuing with a remarkably sustained mood of soberness and dignity, punctuated by frenetic outbursts. Busoni is one major presence on the program; the other is Liszt, and the two come together in the Busoni transcription of the Fantasy and Fugue on the Chorale Ad nos, ad salutarem undam of Liszt, originally for organ and an impressive virtuoso task on the piano. So the program works well also as a revival of pure late-Romantic pianism: you can easily imagine that Liszt would have loved this, and loved to play it. A third theme interweaving the works on the program is that of reinterpretation, as in the Brahms transcription of the Chaconne from the Bach Partita for solo violin in D minor, BWV 1004; the fact that Levit has played these works in different orderings in recital testifies to the program's remarkable cohesiveness. There is music by Frederic Rzewski in a memorial vein, and Bill Evans' serene Peace Piece is a lovely conclusion. Bravo!
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Solo Piano - Released August 22, 2014 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Record of the Month - 4 étoiles de Classica
Russian pianist Igor Levit, trained in Austria and Germany, gained good festival notices and a New Generation Artist nod from the BBC. For his initial recordings he has confidently chosen repertoire that is usually thought to take some life experience to master: first the late Beethoven sonatas, and here Bach's six Partitas for keyboard, BWV 825-830. The partitas receive subjective, frankly pianistic readings less often than they used to, and for Levit the recording is a gutsy move. He relies less on pedal (like the big piano names of the old days) or extreme tempos (like Gould, although a few of his scherzos and finales are unusually quick) than on articulation combined with small variation in speed to define each partita and each movement with a free and distinctive spirit. The slow movements, with feathery trills and plenty of expressive space, are exceptionally beautiful, and the entire concept is thought out in detail; when Levit takes a fixed tempo, that actually stands out and becomes the point of the movement where it occurs. This kind of Bach is clearly not for everybody, but it's both original and executed with steely perfection. Mention must also be made of Sony's tremendous sound from a Berlin radio studio, capturing Levit's work in granular detail and imparting just the right measure of intimate intensity.
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Classical - Released August 16, 2013 | Sony Classical

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released November 4, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released September 13, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released November 4, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released November 4, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released August 15, 2014 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released October 9, 2015 | Sony Classical

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The pianist Igor Levit has shown an inclination toward big virtuoso repertory: Liszt, Bach, the late Beethoven sonatas. Nothing he has done, however, is comparable to this giant effort, comprising three ambitious and extremely difficult variation sets. The amount of preparation involved is mind-boggling in itself, and what's more, Levit has knitted the three works together with a common style that's extremely precise and unobscured by pedal. You could buy the set for the Beethoven Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, alone, really; Levit offers a clean, probing reading that's not without a good deal of humor. The odd work out here is doubtless The People United Will Never Be Defeated, a set of variations by American composer Frederic Rzewski on the Chilean folk song El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. This work, despite its difficulties and despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it has never quite fit the agendas of either modernists or neo-Romantics, has persisted for 40 years in the imaginations of players and audiences, and Levit makes a good case for its inclusion in the august environment in which he places it here. The works form a persuasive chain: Beethoven clearly knew Bach's variation set with its transfigured return to the theme at the end, and Rzewski's was explicitly modeled on Beethoven, with a big fugue at the end and a uniquely stretchy conception of the theme. Sony backs up Levit with crystal-clear studio sound, which was what was needed despite the pianist's Romantic virtuoso qualities. Strongly recommended.
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Classical - Released September 13, 2019 | Sony Classical

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Igor Levit in the magazine