‘I had no other tools than to react as an artist.’ – Igor Levit
This new release on CD and streaming from German-Russian pianist Igor Levit is his personal response, in music, to the 7th October 2023 atrocities in Israel and the alarming rise of anti-semitism around the world.
‘I made this recording out of a very, very strong inner necessity. I spent the first four or five weeks after the attack on October 7th in a mixture of speechlessness and total paralysis. And at some point, it became clear that I had no other tools than to react as an artist. I have the piano. I have my music. And so, the idea came to me to record these works, the “Songs without Words”….’ – Igor Levit
The album contains a selection of Mendelssohn’s evergreen Songs Without Words, and concludes with a Prelude by Alkan, which Levit feels is also a “song without words” and sits well with the other music. Levit chose this repertoire, music which he has been playing in private rather than in public concerts because its poignancy and melancholy have given him comfort in recent months.
Levit, who has returned to posting on Twitter/X since the 7th October attacks to share his music and his thoughts on the current situation, has been a prominent critic of the rise of anti-semitism, not only in Germany where he lives but around the world.
In November, Levit performed in Tel Aviv for the families of Israeli hostages and more recently organised a solidarity concert with many prominent German musicians, authors and presenters, as well as Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer.
Levit and his team gave their time pro bono for the recording of his new album, and proceeds from CD/download sales will be donated to two German organisations fighting anti-Semitism – OFEK Advice Center for Anti-Semitic Violence and Discrimination and the Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism.
Igor Levit –Mendelssohn: Lieder Ohne Worte Op. 102/1 in E minor (Excerpt)
It was the writer Hans Christian Andersen who said, ‘When words fail, music speaks,’ and there is certainly a sense in this album of music speaking most powerfully. Perhaps it is the context and urgency in which this recording was created which gives it so much depth and poignancy. Yet, there’s strength and passion too, often in the more intimate or tender pieces. These concise, lyrical works are perennially popular with pianists and audiences for their musical richness and variety, which hint, intriguingly, at greater depth. They are truly far greater than the sum of their parts, and Levit brings his characteristic tastefulness and sensitivity, balance and tone to these pieces, each a minor miracle of expression and evocation.
Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19b: No. 4 in A Major. Moderato, MWV U 73
Mendelssohn Lieder Ohne Worte is available now on the Sony Classical label and via streaming.
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