Napisala i przyslala Basia Jaworski
On 17 December 2019 Ludwig van Beethoven will celebrate his 250th birthday. An occasion this big calls for a big party, so that is what we will get. There will be an abundance of concerts, recitals and recordings to choose from. Of all the projects we are about to be inundated with, there is one that appeals to me personally the most: the recording of all of his piano sonatas by Igor Levit.
What do we know about Igor Levit? He was born in 1987 in Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) in Russia. He started piano lessons at the age of three and had already achieved enormous successes as a child. In 1995 the Levit family left for Germany, where he graduated from the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover in 2009. I heard him for the first time on recordings from the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv in 2005. At that time he was the youngest participant ever and he won the second prize, the chamber music prize, the audience prize and the prize for the best performance of a contemporary work. He looked timid and shy, but as an audience member you were not only enchanted by him but also drawn to him.
Levit plays Beethoven in Tel Aviv:
I decided to follow this young artist as much as possible. When Sony contracted him and they brought out an album with Beethoven’s late piano sonatas, I was extremely pleased! It was a huge gamble for Sony. Imagine: when you’re in your twenties choosing Beethoven’s last five piano sonatas for your debut album! You really need to have guts to do that. But it could also be conceived as arrogant. Didn’t most pianists have to wait until they reached a certain age to try their hand at the last sonatas?
The result was overwhelming. The album won several prizes in 2014, including an ECHO Klassik, when that prize was still taken seriously. And the prizes continued: in October 2015 his CD with works by Bach, Beethoven and Rzewsky was chosen as Recording of the Year at the 2016 Gramophone Classical Music Awards. In 2018 Levit received the prestigious Gilmore Award and was named the Royal Philharmonic Society’s ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’.