[ALBUM REVIEW] Life, Igor Levit
Self-described as a “maximalist,” Igor Levit releases an album on Sony Classical that is intimate and inward. The Berlin-based 31-year-old is the recent recipient of the highly-coveted Gilmore Award.
More than ever, the individuality and insatiable curiosity of this young artist has become apparent. This pianist presents himself as an equally adventurous and passionate guide through musical regions in which the great questions of human existence arise – questions about meaning and duration, about inner peace, memory, and salvation.
Gently and with the utmost inner calm, Levit’s new album transcends the boundaries between styles and genres, and in doing so, offers a wealth of discoveries.
Life was recorded in spring 2018 in Berlin’s famed Jesus-Christus-Kirche, well-known for its acoustics, on an excellently tuned new Steinway grand. Levit presents an imaginary recital encompassing a tremendous emotional range, extending from the intimate in Schumann’s Ghost Variations from Theme and Variations in E-flat Major and Bill Evans’s Peace Piece, to the sublime and monumental in Liszt-Busoni’s Ad nos.
Levit’s first three Sony albums, all highly acclaimed, involved some of the greatest groups of works in the canon for solo piano: Beethoven’s late piano sonatas, Bach’s six Partitas, and the three most impressive piano variation works in the history of music by Bach, Beethoven, and Rzewski.
In Life, Levit shares some of his personal reflections of past years. Triggered by the tragic death of a close friend in an accident, Levit’s playing reflects upon an experience of loss encompassing grief, despair, resignation, and solace. He concentrates on works whose gloomy grandeur and melancholy beauty have occupied him for years. Each of them pays tribute to the virtuoso possibilities of the piano.
Poetic moments of contemplative silence blend with life-affirming and extremely sensual music with a direct physical fascination. The title of the album is based on a piano piece by the American Frederic Rzewski, composed a few years ago by Rzewski in memory of a friend who was a New York performance artist; this is the world premiere recording.
Life by Igor Levit is now available for purchase or download. The recording is available through Google Play, Apple Music, Amazon, and Spotify, among others.