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Mendelssohn ? Lieder Ohne Wort

Mendelssohn ? Lieder Ohne Wort

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Igor Levit releases a new album as his personal artistic reaction to the October 7 attacks on Israel and the current rise in anti-Semitism worldwide. The album contains his selection of “Songs without Words” by Felix Mendelssohn and concludes with one Prelude by French Romantic composer Charles-Valentin Alkan. Igor Levit and his team have given their time pro-bono and his proceeds will be donated to two German organizations fighting anti-Semitism - OFEK Advice Center for Anti-Semitic Violence and Discrimination and the Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism.

Igor Levit explains, “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” and to donate my proceeds from this recording to two wonderful organizations that work in my hometown here in Berlin to help people who experience anti-Semitism and to help young people avoid falling into the clutches of anti-Semitism. It is my artistic reaction, as a person, as a musician, as a Jew, to what I have felt in the last few weeks and months. Or to put it more precisely, it is one of many reactions that came to mind.”


Aside from altruistic reasons, one should buy this disc for Levit’s exceptional pianism and fresh insights.

He addresses Mendelssohn’s E minor Op. 102 No. 1’s agitato directive without the usual tendency to push and pull the composer’s basic Andante tempo. On the other hand, he takes the famous E major Op. 19 No. 1’s con moto on faith, yet keeping the long melodic phrases afloat. The E minor Funeral March stands out for Levit’s impeccably balanced chords, plus a sense of split-second timing that takes both notes and rests into equal account.

Levit’s hypnotic, long-lined legato and subtle dynamic gradations justify his measured pacing of three Venetian Gondola Songs, while his linear independence in the A-flat Duetto is akin to Ignaz Friedman’s, albeit by stricter, more modern-day standards. It may be rather cheeky to end a Mendelssohn Songs Without Words recital with Alkan’s Op. 31 No. 8 Prelude, but the music’s inherent sadness and gripping slow-motion trajectory in the piano’s high register makes a profound effect in Levit’s remarkable hands. Hear for yourself.

-- ClassicsToday (Jed Distler, 10/10)

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: SONY
    • UPC/Barcode: 196588789823
    • Item Number: 19658878982