In Tristan, his upcoming double cd Sony Classical release, Igor Levit explores a dark hued gamut of themes: love, death, fear, and loneliness, made bearable by a much-needed sprinkling of love, thanks to Gustav Mahler.

The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst accompanies.

The five works featured on Igor Levit’s latest double album span a period of more than a century. They extend from the overwrought Romanticism of Franz Liszt to the atonal excesses of Hans Werner Henze.

Even though only one of these works was conceived for piano solo, Igor Levit’s exploration encompasses music of Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt, Gustav Mahler, and Hans Werner Henze, all compositions created for the opera stage or for the symphony orchestra.

Franz Liszt’s Liebestraum No. 3 and Harmonies du soir No. 11 from Études d’exécution transcendante afford Levit the opportunity to dig into grandiloquent music that allows his prodigious technique to have free rein.

Hans Werner Henze’s Tristan is a lengthy set of six preludes for piano, electronics, and orchestra which, for this listener, overstays its welcome halfway through.

The inclusion of the Prelude to Tristan und Isolde provides less of an insight into Wagner’s orchestral composition than one anticipated, although the Adagio from Gustav Mahler’s Tenth Symphony gets a surprisingly lovely, lyrical reading from Levit and from the usually precise but chilly Welser-Möst.

For the moment I remain intently looking forward to Igor Levit’s next cd of music for the piano.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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