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Igor Levit, Piano

Friday, October 19, 2018 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
Igor Levit by Robbie Lawrence
Igor Levit’s last Carnegie Hall recital was called by The New Criterion critic “a peak pianistic experience of my concertgoing life. I left the hall feeling high.” Now it’s your turn. Cited by The New York Times for being “consistently game for unconventional approaches to the repertory,” he plays such rarities as Brahms’s left-hand arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne, a rarely heard set of Schumann variations, a monumental Liszt organ work arranged by Busoni, and more.


Igor Levit, Piano


BACH Chaconne in D Minor from Violin Partita No. 2 (arr. for piano left hand by Brahms)

BUSONI Fantasia nach J. S. Bach

SCHUMANN Variations on an Original Theme

LISZT "Solemn March to the Holy Grail" from Parsifal (after Wagner)

LISZT Fantasia and Fugue on "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam" (after Meyerbeer) (transcr. for piano by Busoni)


FREDERIC RZEWSKI "A Mensch" from Dreams, Part I

Event Duration

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

At a Glance

BACH  Chaconne in D Minor from Violin Partita No. 2, BWV 1004 

Conceived for solo violin, Bach’s D-Minor Chaconne has been adapted for various instruments and ensembles. In arranging it for piano left hand, Brahms marveled that on “one stave, for a small instrument” Bach had inscribed “a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings.”


BUSONI  Fantasia nach J. S. Bach, K. 253

One of the most forward-looking composers and musical thinkers of his time, Busoni also had a keen interest in music of the past. This ingenious fantasy, based on themes from Bach’s organ works, illustrates his contention that every piece of music “stands at once inside and outside time.”


SCHUMANN  Variations on an Original Theme, WoO 24

Left unfinished at the time of Schumann’s death, this brief but beguiling set of variations is numbered among the composer’s “Werke ohne Opus” (“works without opus numbers”). Although its composition in 1854 coincided with the onset of Schumann’s final illness, the music conveys a sense of peace rather than suffering.


LISZT  “Solemn March to the Holy Grail,” S. 450, from Parsifal 

A devout Wagnerite, Liszt seized every opportunity to champion Wagner’s innovative musical dramas as both a pianist and conductor. This work is a freely creative piano paraphrase based on the march from Act I of Parsifal, as well as other themes from Wagner’s “festival play for the consecration of the stage.”


LISZT  Fantasia and Fugue on “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam,” S. 259 

Equally adept as transcribers, Liszt and Busoni masterfully translated orchestral, vocal, and other types of music into a piano idiom. Liszt’s Fantasia and Fugue for organ, itself inspired by a theme from Meyerbeer’s opera Le prophète, was transformed again by Busoni into a brilliant pianistic tour de force.


Igor Levit

Igor Levit is the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year and the 2018 recipient of the Gilmore Artist Award. This month, Sony Classical releases Life, Mr. Levit’s highly anticipated fourth album for the label, which features works by Bill Evans, Bach, Busoni, Liszt, ...

Igor Levit is the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year and the 2018 recipient of the Gilmore Artist Award. This month, Sony Classical releases Life, Mr. Levit’s highly anticipated fourth album for the label, which features works by Bill Evans, Bach, Busoni, Liszt, Wagner, Rzewski, and Schumann. Mr. Levit brings this program and others this season to the Lucerne Festival, San Francisco Performances, Lisbon’s Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and Berlin’s Philharmonie. He also appears in recital in Vienna, Hamburg, Munich, Antwerp, Liège, and Dresden. Mr. Levit makes his Paris and Tokyo recital debuts in the spring of 2019, followed by three recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall.

Mr. Levit made debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival during the summer of 2018. This season, his orchestral debuts include appearances with the Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de France, Filarmonica della Scala, and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Mr. Levit also returns to the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and joins the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on a tour that includes his return to Carnegie Hall in March 2019 for his highly anticipated New York orchestral debut.

Highlights of past seasons include debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Staatskapelle Dresden, The Cleveland Orchestra, and London Symphony Orchestra. Additional highlights include the 2017 Opening Night of the prestigious BBC Proms alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Edward Gardner, and a tour to Asia with the Bavarian State Orchestra conducted by Kirill Petrenko.

An exclusive recording artist for Sony Classical, Mr. Levit’s debut CD of Beethoven’s last five piano sonatas won BBC Music Magazine’s 2014 Newcomer of the Year Award and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2014 Young Artist Award. In October 2015, Sony Classical released Mr. Levit’s third solo album in collaboration with the Heidelberger Frühling International Music Festival, which features Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Beethoven’s Thirty-Three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, and Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated!. The album won Gramophone’s Instrumental Award and Recording of the Year Award in 2016.

Born in Russia, Mr. Levit moved to Germany with his family at the age of eight. He completed his piano studies at Hanover University of Music, Drama, and Media in 2009 with the highest academic and performance scores in the history of the school. Mr. Levit has studied under the tutelage of Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, Matti Raekallio, Bernd Goetze, Lajos Rovátkay, and Hans Leygraf. 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 prizes for the best performance of chamber music and contemporary music. Mr. Levit lives in Berlin and plays on a Steinway Model D concert grand piano, kindly given to him by the trustees of Independent Opera at Sadler’s Wells.

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