Igor Levit © Peter Meisel
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Igor Levit © Peter Meisel
The Hammerklavier Sonata is by far the most demanding of all 32 of Beethoven’s sonatas. It really is a borderline experience in terms of manual, physical, and emotional demands,” remarks Igor Levit, who adds: “No other piano work – save perhaps the Diabelli Variations – has so moved, changed, and affected me. Not a day goes by that I do not think about this sonata.” On the second-to-last evening of his eight-part complete Beethoven cycle, which he has been performing at LUCERNE FESTIVAL since the summer of 2019, Levit will ascend this “Mount Everest” of the piano repertoire. But already on the way there, he will provide us with additional moments of musical bliss. First comes the two-movement Sonata in E minor, Op. 90, whose beguiling rondo keeps circling back with exuberant high spirits, like an endless melodic loop. The Sonata in A major, Op. 101, that follows sounds as if it had already started even before the very first measure. And it reaches far into the future in its vibrant scherzo, which seems to anticipate Schumann’s Davidsbündler marches. “This sonata is simply put a human miracle,” Levit attests.
Igor Levit © Robbie Lawrence
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 Hamamatsu Competition in Japan. Levit soon began performing with such renowned orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Saxon Staatskapelle Dresden, and the Boston and London Symphony Orchestras. He made his debuts with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2018 and, in 2019, with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. In the 2020-21 season, Levit will be artist-in-residence with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and will also be the featured artists at the Essen Philharmonie. He will make his debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic under Herbert Blomstedt. Additional plans include concert engagements with the Orchestre de Paris, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouworkest, and he will go on tour with the Hagen Quartet. Among Levit’s major current projects is the cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, which he is performing at LUCERNE FESTIVAL, the Salzburg Festival, and Musikfest Berlin, as well as in Hamburg, Stockholm, and London. He has also released his recording of the complete set. His other recordings include accounts of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated. Encounter, which contains works by Bach, Brahms, and Feldman, is his latest album and will appear in September 2020. Levit was named recipient of the Gilmore Artist Award in 2018, and in 2020 he received the Beethoven Prize for his political engagement.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut on 11 September 2011 as the soloist in Scriabin’s Prométhée with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski.
17.30 | Introduction to the concert (in German) by Susanne Stähr | KKL Luzern, Auditorium