Igor Le­vit

Wig­more Hall, Lon­don

The Guardian - - JOURNAL - The fi­nal recital in Igor Le­vit’s Beethoven se­ries at the Wig­more Hall, Lon­don, is on 13 June. Box of­fice: 020-7935 2141. An­drew Cle­ments

Igor Le­vit has adopted a pick-and­mix ap­proach to pro­gram­ming much of his eight-con­cert jour­ney through Beethoven’s pi­ano sonatas at the Wig­more Hall. But he has re­served the last six sonatas for the fi­nal pair of recitals; he’ll play the fi­nal tril­ogy in June, while this con­cert in­cluded Opp 90, 101 and the Ham­merklavier, Op 106.

Three years ago, Le­vit made his de­but on disc with late Beethoven – per­for­mances of the last five sonatas, that made a bold artis­tic state­ment, and one that sug­gested he was al­ready a fully ma­ture Beethoven in­ter­preter. Here, how­ever, his play­ing of the A ma­jor Op 101 and the B flat Op 106 was far less con­vinc­ing. Un­like the record­ings, these seemed like in­ter­pre­ta­tions that were still to be fi­nalised, or per­haps were be­ing rad­i­cally rethought.

In the Ham­merklavier es­pe­cially, parts of the same move­ment could have come from en­tirely dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to the work. Con­fronta­tional, abra­sive pas­sages were fol­lowed by sec­tions that seemed al­most in­dul­gently ex­pan­sive. The con­trasts were star­tling, but they weren’t al­ways con­vinc­ing, and it had been clear from the ag­gres­sive way in which Le­vit launched into the E mi­nor Op 90 at the start of the evening that he wasn’t much con­cerned with beau­ti­ful tone; it was the force­ful­ness of the mu­si­cal ar­gu­ment that mat­tered most. Some of what fol­lowed was ex­hil­a­rat­ing, and there were oc­ca­sional mo­ments of rapt, in­tense beauty, but it left a puz­zling im­pres­sion.

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