Igor Levit’s late Beethoven sonatas (11/13) and Bach Partitas (10/14) on Sony Classical have already made bold declarations of his pianistic and artistic prowess. Now he confirms his appetite for the big entrance with three monuments to variation form.
Certainly he can muster all the athleticism, velocity and finesse of a competition winner ready to burst on to the international scene. But like the rarest of that breed, his playing already has a far-seeing quality that raises him to the status of the thinking virtuoso.
Frederic Rzewski can hardly complainRead more at daunting comparisons with Bach and Beethoven, since his variation set The People United Will Never Be Defeated! so conspicuously invites them. Levit's recording comes with an wide range of color and attack, and an almost tangible sense of mission. Levit’s ‘Improvisation’ (an option allowed by the composer before the final reappearance of the theme) has a summative power that surpasses even Hamelin's.
Likewise, his Diabelli Variations features playing of unfailing concentration and insight. To say that Levit can withstand comparison with Kovacevich’s 1968 recording, as well as Anderszewski's and Schiff's, is the highest praise.
Levit’s Goldberg Variations range themselves more naturally alongside the patrician intelligence of a Perahia than with the sui generis extremes of a Glenn Gould.
Should a finer piano recording comes my way this year I shall be delighted, but frankly also astonished.
After acclaimed accounts of Beethoven’s last sonatas and Bach’s partitas, Mr. Levit shows no sign of slowing down. In this smart set, Bach’s “Goldbergs,” Beethoven’s “Diabellis” and Frederic Rzewski’s “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!” become a triptych of three centuries of pianistic history: a total of 99 variations, each played with intellectual rigor and uncommon fire.
Wit and depth.August 14, 2017By Stephen T. (Acton, MA)See All My Reviews"Had heard him on the BBC, but this set of recordings more than confirmed my memory of his broad range of expression, esceptional focus, and wit in interpretation. His palpable e xcite ment in the Rzewski was truly delightful. Splendid virtuosity goes without saying."Report Abuse