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Igor Levit

Friday, February 10, 2017 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
URL Copied
In one of the most eagerly anticipated Carnegie Hall debuts in recent memory, pianist Igor Levit performs Beethoven’s “Diabelli” Variations and premieres a new work by Frederic Rzewski commissioned by Carnegie Hall as part of its ongoing 125 Commissions Project. Beethoven elevated Diabelli’s slight waltz tune with a set of epic variations that traverse a winding road from the comic to the tragic. The Los Angeles Times wrote of Levit, “I have never known a young Russian pianist with a promise like Levit’s. He is the future.” Hear the future now.

Part of Mix and Mingle.


Igor Levit, Piano


SHOSTAKOVICH Prelude and Fugue in C-sharp Minor, Op. 87, No. 10
SHOSTAKOVICH Prelude and Fugue in E Minor, Op. 87, No. 4
SHOSTAKOVICH Prelude and Fugue in G-sharp Minor, Op. 87, No. 12
FREDERIC RZEWSKI Dreams, Part II (US Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
BEETHOVEN Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli

SHOSTAKOVICH Waltz-Scherzo from Dances of the Dolls

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Public support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.

At a Glance

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH  Selections from 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87

Inspired by Bach’s 48 canonic preludes and fugues, Shostakovich’s Op. 87 is the culmination of his lifelong admiration for the Baroque composer’s contrapuntal mastery. Although they were initially conceived as technical exercises, Shostakovich’s preludes and fugues are among his most intricately wrought and richly expressive creations.


Now in his late 70s, American composer-pianist Frederic Rzewski is known for his technically challenging, uncompromisingly modernist, and yet remarkably accessible long-form piano works. Dreams is a suite of eight pieces; the last four (Part II) will be performed on this evening’s program. The work was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s magical realist movie of the same name, and runs the gamut from folk-like innocence to apocalyptic intensity.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN  Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120

In 1823, Anton Diabelli wrote a 32-bar waltz in C major and commissioned variations from a “Who’s Who” of Austrian composers. Among those who contributed to this patriotic anthology were Schubert, Hummel, Czerny, and Moscheles. Beethoven, as usual, went his own way, composing a set of dazzlingly inventive variations on Diabelli’s tune that is one of the pinnacles of the piano repertory.


Igor Levit

Winner of Gramophone's 2016 Recording of the Year Award, Igor Levit is one of the most relevant pianists of his generation. The 2016-2017 season marks Mr. Levit's debut with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Christian Thielemann, the Bayerisches Staatsorchester and Kirill Petrenko, and the London Symphony Orchestra and Fabio Luisi. He also returns to the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård; the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and Thomas Hengelbrock; Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Lionel Bringuier; and the San Francisco Symphony and Mr. Luisi.

Mr. Levit makes recital debuts this season at the Chicago Symphony Center and the Celebrity Series of Boston, as well as at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and Lisbon's Gulbenkian Foundation. He returns to the Lucerne Festival, Zürich's Tonhalle, Hamburg's Laeiszhalle, and the Kölner Philharmonie, and begins a cycle of Beethoven's complete piano sonatas at London's Wigmore Hall and Brussels's Palais des Beaux-Arts. Mr. Levit also performs Bach's Goldberg Variations, Beethoven's Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, and Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated in his hometown of Hannover and at Berlin's Philharmonie. Mr. Levit's third solo studio album with Sony Classical-featuring these same works-was released in October 2015, and won Gramophone's Instrumental Award and Recording of the Year Award in 2016.

As the youngest participant in the 2005 Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv, Mr. Levit won the Silver Prize, the Audience Prize, and the prizes for the best performance of chamber music and contemporary music. He also won First Prize at the 2004 Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan. Since 2003, Mr. Levit has been a scholarship student at Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes and Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben. At home in Berlin, Mr. Levit plays on a Steinway Model D concert grand piano, kindly given to him by the trustees of the Independent Opera at Sadler's Wells.

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