2020 Artist of the Year – Igor Levit

I was fortunate last year to hear pianist Igor Levit’s US debut, where he played a Beethoven concerto with an ebullient demeanor that was truly stirring. He has remained a touchstone artist for me throughout the pandemic. Levit has been generous in sharing mini-recitals via his Twitter account, with a range of repertoire that is astounding, from ragtime to Rzewski with all points in between. But especially Beethoven.

Released in 2019, Levit’s recording of the complete Beethoven sonatas (Sony Music)  has remained in heavy rotation at our home. It is the most eloquent release of these thirty-two masterworks in a generation.

2020 has seen the release of Encounter, Levit’s second Sony Music CD recording, a double album with an eclectic program: Bach and Brahms chorale prelude arrangements,  Max Reger’s Nachtlied, and Morton Feldman’s Palais de Mari. The chorales are played with fleet-fingered delicacy, the Reger with poignant romanticism, and the Feldman’s fragmentary phrases are rendered with jewel-like precision. Encounter, as well as the Twitter recitals, reveal depth and versatility in Levit’s playing that is, in its own way, as impressive as his watershed renditions of Beethoven. Both the sonatas and Encounter, as well as regular visits to his Twitter site, are highly recommended. Levit is Sequenza 21’s Artist of the Year for 2020.