A handful of good things have come out of lockdown. Stranded at home and missing live performances, Igor Levit took matters into his own hands and gave an online recital from his living room. The idea took off and the daily “Hauskonzert” became a series of 50.
Out of that experience Levit has compiled Encounter, a selection of the music that drew especially positive responses from his online audience. The mood is serious, thoughtful, at peace with itself, certainly never shallow. That is the last thing one would expect from Levit either as pianist or thinker.
A large part of the 2CD set is taken up by Bach and Brahms, mainly transcriptions of their chorale preludes made by Italian composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni. Even without the words these come across as devotional music. A couple of the Bach feel rushed off their feet, but otherwise the introspective mood is sustained through the six Busoni transcriptions of Brahms and Reger's transcriptions of Brahms's Vier ernste Gesänge.
The last, and longest, item is the one that most captivated audiences during the months of lockdown. Who would have thought of American individualist Morton Feldman as the composer to sum up the mood of that extraordinary time?
His Palais de Mari evokes a world of stillness. Odd chords hang in the air, fading slowly into a void — a “vanishing point”, as Levit calls it, and the culmination of a recital that is a slow retreat into a private, internal world.
‘Encounter’ is released by Sony Classical
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