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How modern Igor Levit makes Beethoven's piano sonatas sound / theartsdesk picks

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Welcome to theartsdesk - Classical CDs Weekly: Beethoven, Bruckner, Notice Recordings. Definitive box sets of sonatas and symphonies, plus striking new music from a US independent label by Graham Rickson for Saturday, 22 February 2020.

"Beethoven paid no attention at all to the conventions of his own time In fact, he only ever wrote music for the future." One strength of Igor Levit's magnificent traversal of Beethoven's piano sonatas is how contemporary, how disarmingly modern he makes many of them sound. Speeds in outer movements are generally swift, the dynamic contrasts extreme. Try No. 25's tiny last movement, pushed to the limit here and almost buckling under the strain. But there's so much energy and joy; you suspect that Beethoven would have approved. He would also have grinned at Levit's fizzing account of No. 25, the grace and flamboyance perfectly matched. One of this set's many attractions is hearing Levit doesn't underplay the earlier, less familiar sonatas. The first three, dedicated to Haydn, are wonderfully handled. No. 2's first movement is laugh-out-loud funny, and No. 3's finale closes with a nicely emphatic full stop.

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