Piano recital with Igor Levit I
Igor Levit Piano
Johann Sebastian Bach
Goldberg Variations BWV 988
Sun, 18 Jun 2017, 20:00
Chamber Music Hall | Introduction: 19:00
Ninety-nine variations on three themes – that’s a succinct description of the programme on Igor Levit’s two piano recitals. The German-Russian pianist, who first gave a recital as guest of the Berlin Philharmonic Foundation in December 2013, after which he was acclaimed by the music critic of the Tagesspiegel as a “hypnotist, magician and master of ceremonies, a lion tamer”, will now take on three great sets of variations of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries on two concerts. He kicks it off on this evening with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations, that culmination of the Baroque art of modification that the cantor of St. Thomas’s Church composed for his friend the Count Hermann Carl von Keyserlingk, who suffered from insomnia. He had his harpsichordist Johann Gottlieb Goldberg play Bach’s compositions at night – or so the story goes.
Based on the bass model of a simple songlike aria, in the 30 following variations Bach created a musical cosmos which concentrates and elevates the entire art of composition of that time: variation, dance, counterpoint, quodlibet – and despite the strict form and construction, one thing remains: captivatingly beautiful music. All pianists of distinction must be judged on this work. Igor Levit considers it a gift of his profession to be able to grapple mentally and emotionally with such a work. His interpretation is like a journey: “Ideally you begin as Person A and wherever the journey takes you, when at the end the theme, this ‘holy’ theme, sounds out once again unchanged, you encounter it as Person B. That’s a huge distance and a unique experience.”