Igor Levit © Robbie Lawrence
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Igor Levit © Robbie Lawrence
Igor Levit opens the 2018 Piano Festival with a program of works whose subject is music itself. Brahms and Busoni transferred pieces by Bach to the modern piano. Liszt arranged a march from Wagner’s “stage-consecrating festival play” Parsifal for the keyboard, while one of his own works, Ad nos, ad salutarem undem (originally written for organ) was transcribed by his colleague Busoni. Meanwhile, in Geistervariationen (“Ghost Variations”), his final piano work just before he suffered a mental breakdown, Schumann treated a theme that he believed angels had sung to him: the composer in dialogue with the hereafter. This spiritual component is a shared thread in Levit’s program as well: Bach’s work also suggests something of a spiritual retreat or prayer, Wagner’s Parsifal touches on sacred mysteries, and Liszt’s Ad nos is based on a chorale from Meyerbeer’s opera Le prophète. In other words, these pieces hint at higher truths. And who better to articulate them on the piano than the 31-year-old Levit, an artist known for exploring existential musical experiences?
Igor Levit © Gregor Hohenberg
The pianist Igor Levit was born in 1987 in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and began learning piano at the age of three. In 1995 his family moved to Germany, where Levit continued his studies with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Matti Raekallio, and Bernd Goetzke in Hanover and later with Hans Leygraf at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In 2005 he won no fewer than four prizes at the Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv; he also triumphed at the Hamamatsu Competition in Japan. Levit soon began performing with such renowned orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic under Riccardo Chailly, the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Andris Nelsons, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lionel Bringuier. In the 2016-17 season he makes his debuts with the Staatskapelle Dresden (with Christian Thielemann conducting), the Bavarian Staatsorchester (with Kirill Petrenko), and the London Symphony Orchestra, which will be led by Fabio Luisi. His recitals will take him to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall in New York, Chicago, Boston, Lisbon, Hamburg, and Cologne. He also launches a complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, which he will initially present in London and Brussels. Since 2012 Igor Levit has been directing the Academy for Chamber Music at the Heidelberg Spring. In the summer of 2013 he released his debut CD, an account of Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas, for which he received numerous awards. In 2014 came a recording of the six Partitas of Bach, and, in the fall of 2015, his accounts of three major variation sets for piano: Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated. For this he received Gramophone’s 2016 Recording of the Year Award.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL debut on 11 September 2011 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Vladimir Jurowski playing Scriabin’s Prométhée.
17.30 | Introduction to the Concert (in German) with Susanne Stähr | KKL Lucerne, Auditorium