Igor Levit : Fantasia Review
Fantasia: Igor Levit’s Masterful Weaving of Historical Nuance and Interpretative Brilliance
Igor Levit’s Fantasia is another outstanding addition to his discography for the world of classical piano recordings. This double album, released under the prestigious Sony Classical label, is a masterclass in both the depth and breadth of piano literature that spans centuries. At its core, Fantasia makes a powerful statement about the vast interpretive possibilities that exist within iconic piano pieces, and Levit’s execution is nothing short of mesmerizing.
From the timeless compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach to the modernistic tonalities of Alban Berg, Levit embarks on a journey that showcases his unique interpretive genius. His rendition of Bach’s “Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D minor, BWV 903” is a testament to this. While he reverently acknowledges the historical and storied traditions of the piece, Levit is unafraid to sprinkle his own brand of magic, melding old with new in a dance of fingers on ivory keys. His treatment of Busoni’s “Fantasia contrappuntistica, BV 256” further solidifies this, where the technique becomes the servant, not the master, of the music. This brings out the music’s structure, providing a robust basis for his variations in articulation and dynamics. The result? It is a dynamic and articulate performance that invites rigorous discussion among the most discerning classical aficionados.
Turning to the 20th century, Levit’s interpretation of Berg’s “Klavierstück in B Minor” and Piano Sonata, Op. 1, is both daring and insightful. He delves deep into Berg’s enigmatic harmonic language, bringing to the fore the composer’s tonal nuances with impeccable dynamics and well-structured articulations. For educators specializing in the Second Viennese School, Levit’s approach is a refreshing take that challenges established interpretations, all the while maintaining a narrative that feels both organic and compelling.
Levit’s interpretation of Franz Liszt’s “Sonata in B minor, S. 178” exemplifies his technical mastery and emotional insight, especially in the third movement, “III. Allegro energico.” Levit brings out the drama of the composition with his choice of dynamics and articulations, building and releasing tension in patterned waves that match the mood of the piece’s structure and densities. The climactic points are not merely loud but emotionally charged with direction through his shaping of the music, contributing to an overarching sense of narrative cohesion.
The album’s sequencing is a stroke of genius. Levit’s back-to-back placement of Berg’s works naturally paves the way for the ensuing compositions in the album, particularly the Busoni and Liszt pieces. This programming choice serves as an engaging flow for the project’s program. In addition, the journey from Berg’s atonal complexities to the lush romanticism of Liszt reflects a well-thought-out emotional and intellectual arc, too, allowing the listener to experience the tensions and releases of both styles within a context that is natural and appealing.
In conclusion, Igor Levit’s Fantasia reflects his interpretive skills, historical acumen, and impeccable programming. It’s more than just an album – it’s a conversation starter for anyone deeply entrenched in classical music, from educators to industry professionals. Levit doesn’t merely offer a listening experience; he extends an invitation to dissect, study, and revel in the myriad interpretive choices he brings to the classical piano repertoire.
September 29 2023