Friday 7 July 2017

Igor Levit's monumental performance of Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues

Birmingham Town Hall (Photo: Andrew Morris)
My long drive up to Birmingham was rewarded with an intense and riveting performance of Shostakovich’s mighty Preludes and Fugues from pianist of the moment, Igor Levit. Here’s the introduction to my Bachtrack review:

Deep into Igor Levit’s monumental Birmingham Town Hall performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s vast cycle of Twenty-Four Preludes and Fugues, I wondered if this work was some kind of Everest for pianists. It’s rare to meet it complete, in concert. The careful, transparent counterpoint places exacting demands on its interpreters and although it’s never flashy, there are devilishly difficult corners. Success here depends upon unwavering concentration from musician and listener alike. If you fell, there’d be no soft landing, and certainly nowhere to hide. But the mountain analogy only gets you so far. This isn’t music of lofty vistas, of high-wire daring or summit-triumph. Shostakovich’s immaculate miniatures are spare, interior, and their rewards quiet and very personal. When Levit reached the final page of the last, defiant fugue – the effort and intensity registering on his face and his hands pounding out its final unisons – it was clear that this was a long, lonely and intensely moving pilgrimage to some of the subtlest landscapes the piano can paint.

1 comment:

David said...

Lucky Birmingham (and you) - haven't seen any indication of Levit having performed the set in London, or intending to.