Igor Levit © Robbie Lawrence
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Igor Levit © Robbie Lawrence
The relative popularity of the Beethoven sonatas is also connected with their nicknames. No wonder that the Pathétique, Moonlight, Waldstein, Appassionata, and Tempest Sonatas rank so high in terms of familiarity. And yet these titles tell us nothing about the artistic value of the corresponding works. Among the quartet of four “nameless” sonatas with which Igor Levit concludes the 2019 Piano Festival is one of his great favorites: the D major Sonata, Op. 10, no. 3. Levit thinks that the first movement in itself is “incredibly captivating.” But it gets even better with the Largo e mesto second movement: “I don’t know of any slow movement that goes as deep as this one.” He finds the minuet to entail a bizarre combination of “humor and religious devotion,” and he considers the finale almost downright phenomenal: “It is total inwardness. When a finale already starts out with a question …” Whenever he has completed a Beethoven recital, Levit admits, he feels an irresistible impulse: “I want to do it again, I want to do it again.” And we also want that: his cycle will continue in the summer of 2020.
Igor Levit © Gregor Hohenberg
The pianist Igor Levit was born in 1987 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and began taking piano lessons at the age of three. His family moved to Germany in 1995, where Levit continued his studies with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Matti Raekallio, and Bernd Goetzke in Hanover before transferring to Hans Leygraf at the Salzburg Mozarteum. He won four prizes at the Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv in 2005 and was also a victor at the Hamamatsu Competition in Japan. Levit soon began performing with such renowned orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Saxon Staatskapelle Dresden, the Boston and London Symphony Orchestras, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. He made his debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival and with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival in 2018 and, in 2019, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. During the 2019-20 season, Levit will be the Featured Artist at the Barbican Centre in London, where he will also appear with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons; with the latter he will additionally tour Spain. Levit will undertake a European tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Manfred Honeck. He will also perform Busoni’s Piano Concerto with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Antonio Pappano. Among his major projects is the cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, which he is performing at LUCERNE FESTIVAL in 2019-20; the complete set will be released in September. Igor Levit has also recorded Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated. He received Gramophone’s Recording of the Year and Best Instrumental Recording awards in 2016. Levit was named the recipient of the Gilmore Artist Award in 2018.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut on 11 September 2011 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski performing Scriabin’s Prométhée; most recent appearance on 23 November 2016 playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
August 2019Other dates