Igor Levit: On DSCH. Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues Op. 87; Stevenson: Passacaglia on DSCH. Igor Levit, piano. Sony Classical 19439809212.
Although I hardly needed yet another recording of DSCH’s 24 to add to my collection, my admiration for Levit’s musicianship combined with my curiosity about the Stevenson piece compelled me to place an advance order for the bizarrely illustrated 3-CD set that I began to audition as soon as it arrived a couple of weeks ago and have listened to numerous times since. Levit brings a warmth and depth of expression to the Shostakovich that draws the listener in. Part of this impression may be attributable to the recorded sound of the piano, which is on the warm and full side, yet very clear and detailed. In comparison, Jarrett’s interpretation seems a bit more Bach-like, whereas Levit’s strikes my ears as more Liszt-like, if that makes any sense at all. To be honest, I like them both, but at different times and for different reasons and different purposes. But my goodness, the Levit is wonderful, and has become my favored version. The Stevenson piece is something I have not quite completely come to grips with; that is not to say I do not like it, for I do, but it is a complex piece, expressing a multitude of styles and emotions, something like a symphony for the piano. I can well appreciate Levit’s thoughts about it and I furthermore appreciate his having recorded it for us to hear and enjoy. This is quite a release. The music is rewarding, particularly with the inclusion of the seldom-encountered but significant composition by Stevenson that so well complements the Shostakovich, the playing is beyond reproach, as is the engineering, and the liner booklet is informative and engaging. The net result is a first-class release that I highly recommend to DSCH fans, even those who already have a favorite recording of his marvelous 24 Preludes and Fugues. Allow me to close with a thought to ponder from Levit: “Music is freer than certain figures of our industry on the writing side, or blogging side, are trying to make us believe. That’s something I find uplifting about music; it’s just there to be experienced, not to be explained. I am not a teacher.”
Klebanov: Chamber Works. Includes String Quartets Nos 4 and 5; Piano Trio No. 2. ARC Ensemble (Erika Raun and Marie Berard, violins; Steven Dann, viola; Thomas Wiebe, Kevin Ahfat, piano). Chandos CHAN 20231.
here.) Like Kaufmann, Klebanov was a composer whose music was suppressed by the Soviet regime and has long been neglected. All three works featured on this beautifully engineered CD are premier recordings; moreover, the liner booklet features not only information about the music but also biographical information to put Klebanov’s life and travails in clear perspective. As my Belgian friend said to me after we listened to this album and poured through the liner notes, “Mon ami, this ARC Ensemble, they not only play the music most beautiful, but they also do the work most noble, n’cest-pas?”
Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1, 14, & 15; Chamber Symphony in C minor. Andris Nelsons, Boston Symphony Orchestra. Deutsche Grammophon B0033803-02.
Jan Järvlepp: High Voltage Chamber Music. Includes Quintet 2003; Woodwind Quintet; Bassoon Quartet; String Quartet No. 1. Jae Cosmos Lee, violin; Sirius Quartet (Fung Chen Hwei and Gregor Huebner, violins; Ron Lawrence, viola; Jeremy Harman, cello); Arcadian Winds (Vanessa Holroyd, flute/alto flute; Jennifer Slowick, oboe and English horn; Rane Moore, clarinet; Clark Matthews, French horn; Janet Underhill, Meryl Summers, Naho Zhu, bassoons; Susie Tulsie, contrabassoon/bassoon). Navona NV6366.