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Review: Igor Levit Wields Orchestral Power With Just a Piano

Review: Igor Levit Wields Orchestral Power With Just a Piano


Igor Levit, a pianist of awe-inspiring perception and redoubtable approach, determined to conduct himself throughout his solo recital at Carnegie Hall on Thursday.

He was taking part in the Nocturne from Hindemith’s “Suite 1922,” a group of 5 style items like marches and rags, and there are a couple of moments through which the pianist solely wants to make use of one hand. Gesturing together with his left one in a downward urgent movement, he appeared to inform himself, “Gentle, light,” as he plucked starlight off the web page and dispersed it via the air.

When Levit is onstage, he appears to be in his personal world. He scratches his nostril, nods approvingly as a chunk closes and shakes out the pressure in his arms from a very grueling program. He doesn’t make a present of inviting the viewers alongside; moderately, he leaves the door cracked open for anybody who needs to hitch.

Such bodily quirks are of a chunk with the prodigious focus and individuality of Levit’s performances. He makes music his personal and illuminates it for others. His confidence and decisiveness enable a listener to listen to a chunk’s structure, the way in which particular person figures turn out to be phrases after which complete sections.

At Carnegie, Levit examined his focus and stamina with piano transcriptions of well-known symphonic works. The program opened with the comparatively transient Hindemith suite earlier than diving headlong into Ronald Stevenson’s adaptation of the Adagio from Mahler’s tenth Symphony and an almost hourlong rendition of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, in a solo model by Liszt.

It was a show of earth-rattling energy. Octaves in opposite movement smoked with ferocity within the Hindemith, and sforzandos within the Beethoven reintroduced audiences to the basic wildness of a composer of repertory requirements. Levit’s New York appearances final season, in music by Shostakovich and Morton Feldman, deployed his focus in service of witty élan and meditative stillness. But Thursday’s recital was pure may.

His gobsmacking “Eroica” topped the night. Forget four-hands piano: Levit gave the impression to be taking part in with six or eight. He generated the breadth, drive and baffling quantity of a full orchestra. In the readability of his intentions, he appeared to attract slur strains within the air for all to see, masking the sheer problem of translating Beethoven’s symphonic efficiency to the piano.

From the primary motion, Levit favored swashbuckling vitality, however he additionally embraced moments of grace, carrying thirds that historically would come from the strings aloft on a breeze and discovering joyful abandon in firmly pronounced staccatos. In its proud comportment, the Funeral March was a confrontation with mortality. The Scherzo, feather-light and flush with delight, constructed to a climax with tickling anticipation. Big, daring, unstoppable chords drove the Finale.

At occasions, Levit substituted energy for sustainment. Even with the pedal, a pianist is preventing a shedding battle towards evaporation because the sound merely fades away. That trade-off was most obvious within the Mahler, through which Levit sculpted the Adagio’s pretty string passages in a forthright, nearly forceful means. He didn’t constantly obtain the delicate colours captured on his attractive recording, however he nonetheless labored magic in his clear-as-day voicings and his trills, which had been plump when imitating strings and airier for woodwinds. The climax, with its sense of emotional obliteration, labored higher dwell than on disc.

The Hindemith, in the beginning of the night, was no warm-up; Levit set it aflame from the primary bars. The March was brisk, headstrong and forbidding — however, in its cacophony, additionally a renunciation of the nefarious potential of militarism. A darkish undertow swelled within the bass strains of the slinky Shimmy and the chopped-up Ragtime. Levit gave the Nocturne, the one one of many items that might declare to be fairly, a tough glitter in the correct hand and an enchantingly smooth haze within the left.

Hindemith would go on to dismiss this showy suite as a sin of his youth. But if he heard Levit’s efficiency — tense and muscular, with a mature, wholly unified sound — maybe he would have modified his thoughts but once more.

Igor Levit

Performed on Thursday at Carnegie Hall, Manhattan.

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