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Last but not least: Pianist Sir András Schiff on Last Sonatas Project

Posted: 1/29/16 -- 8:00 am

Editor’s note: Pianist Sir András Schiff performs three concerts of the “The Last Sonatas” by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert February 16-20, 2016....…

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Community Spotlight: U-M Piano Professor Arthur Greene

Posted: 1/18/16 -- 8:00 am

Editor’s note: Isabel Park is a regular contributor to UMS Lobby and an undergraduate pianist in the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Isabel explores connections...…

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Explore: Connections Between UMS and U-M Museum of Art

Posted: 10/14/15 -- 8:00 am

Visual and performing arts have a close relationship. We asked our partners and friends at UMMA (U-M Museum of Art) to link performances on the UMS season with visual art works...…

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People Are Talking: UMS presents Igor Levit, piano

Posted: 2/6/16 -- 5:00 pm

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Let's call Mr. Levit's recital "interesting." He took a two-hour program and, by skipping two applause exits each half, and by starting both halves of his program briskly, was able, with his inward and deeply personal playing, to turn it into a nearly two-and-a-half hour recital. I have never heard any of the four works on the program played more slowly, with greater variations in pacing and volume, and with a more willfully conscious shaping of every phrase. That does not mean the music-making was bad, just very unusual, idiosyncratic, and attention-getting. I heard things in each work that I had never heard before, thanks to Levit's focused attention to detail. Would I want to hear pianism like this very often? Definitely not. But why not hear an artist with a very unique view of his art provide something different, thought-provoking, and challenging!!

Jurgen Skoppek

Posted: 2/7/16 -- 11:44 pm

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Thank you, Mr. Needleman. We SO agree.

Egret

Posted: 2/7/16 -- 3:31 pm

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By far the worst performance of a Bach partita I have ever heard. Sounded more like a Chopin Nocturne. Pretentious and too slow--it's supposed to be dance music. Tempos uncertain and strange. As for the Schubert, I never realized that Bach and Schubert were the same person. One does not have to be a purist to find fault. Turreck gives a wonderful classical performance and Pinnock another on the harpsichord. I don't know whether Richter has ever recorded the partita, but his WTC is--like Levitt's playing--very non-tranditonal. However, Richter gives an imaginative performance which while probably far from what Bach sounded like originally, is intellectually imaginative and emotionally ingaging. So I am not criticizing from the viewpoint of the original performance narrative.....

Richard Needleman

Posted: 2/7/16 -- 1:52 pm

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Igor Levit gave an absolutely gorgeous performance. Introspective, insightful, meditative, beautiful. We loved it!! Many thanks to Professor Ilene Forsyth for generously endowing a Choral Union concert annually in perpetuity.

Chipper

Posted: 2/7/16 -- 12:55 pm

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I am pleased to find that someone who clearly knows the material better than I feels as I do about the performance and its limitations

Bob Whitman

Posted: 2/7/16 -- 10:26 am

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One of the most intelligent and informed reviews I've read in a long time. I agree with most of what you say, but nevertheless loved the concert, the program and the energy and thought Levit put into the performances, even if over-interpreted certain portions of them. I like his attitude, not always his execution. I do agree that the Bach Gigue was over the top but believe Levit will get it right when he matures. He seemed very proud of himself when that was over. Gould wouldn't have preened. We have already seen many artists who break down doors everywhere but in A2. I'm sure Schiff will do well. Limiting the size of the hall the doors open into may be the secret.

paul wiener

Posted: 2/7/16 -- 10:06 am

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Beautiful music last night. So glad my daughter and I could be there. sb

Shirley Beck

Posted: 2/7/16 -- 9:34 am

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This was the first time I have heard Igor Levit. They say "he is the future" (LA Times), however, to my ears, he sounded 2000 and late. The Bach gave a basic impression - the D Major opening didn't seem particularly triumphant or festive. The runs that some might consider brilliant were about as blurry as the background image on the cover of the program notes. The sublime Allemande, with all of Mr. Levit's tempo changes, fell apart into pieces. The most exciting thing was the brief memory slip in the left hand during the B section. Toward the end, there was a spark of energy in the Gigue, but the tempo was too brisk to hear any definition in the individual lines. Perhaps Mr. Levit wanted to present an intimate Bach - but it was simply quiet, like looking at a 1:144 model airplane instead of the real thing. What always amazes me about Schubert is the omnipresence of the vocal aspect in the music. Mr. Levit's interpretation reminded me of Meek Mill's attempt to vocalize and publish a diss track aimed at Drake last Fall. What did he mean to say? Perhaps he was thinking along the lines of Alfred Hitchcock ("messages are for the Western Union"). I certainly didn't get a message. Maybe that's a good thing. The silence Mr. Levit held after the final piece was dramatic, but seemed more like awkward theatre given the circumstances. The Beethoven started with an extreme pianissimo - an effect that Mr. Levit revisited several times during the piece, and paid a high price for in the Recitative - the extreme effect backfired and he lost two notes to complete silence before the return of the allegro, the return of which was not in tempo and needed to accelerate back to the original pace. Mr. Levit took the movement out of the second movement. It was either so bad it was good, or so good it was bad, I'm not sure. In the third beat of measure 6, I'm pretty sure there is a b natural in the left hand instead of the b flat we heard tonight. The allegretto was more of an allegro con brio. But who cares about tempo? The painful sighs at bar 42 were played harshly, and the primary motif enunciated with careful attention to the sixteenth note rests - Mr. Levit was true to the score and clearly serving the music and composer. Would Beethoven have been proud of that? Prokofiev gave a larger sense of scale of sound, and showed a peek of the dimension Mr. Levit was missing up until this point in the program. But this too left more to desire - the loud sections peaked quickly, and the finale came to an end before I realized there was a build up. Mr. Levit received several ovations, and the Polka encore deserved a C for contrast given that earlier in the evening we were supposed to live through Beethoven's only Sonata in D minor (that's a big deal), and Bach's D Major - happiness that can only be felt after having lost everything. I guess the only question left is - do we really need another recital series endowed in perpetuity? Or do we need to find an Artist for whom we would break down doors to come see and who would sell out the hall within 10 minutes of the announcement? #whatatimetobealive.

Jimmy Nolan

Posted: 2/7/16 -- 12:25 am

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since i know so little about the technical aspects of music, i know i should be reticent to say anything about this amazing pianist--especially with the detailed responses i see others have made--i just can't stop from saying the concert i heard tonight was pure genius thoughtful enriching emotionally satisfying pretty serious what a great touch the happiness of the encore a perfect ending to a most wonderful experience thank you ums for bringing this to us....

Lillian Back

Posted: 2/6/16 -- 11:57 pm

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Levitt displayed a delicate and graceful touch, with exaggerated contrasts in tempos, especially with largo passages in the Beethoven. It worked.

Jeff Gaynor

Posted: 2/6/16 -- 11:48 pm

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I had never heard of Igor Levit and came to this concert on the strength of the program. I was thrilled by his fresh, imaginative approach to the Bach Partita and Beethoven sonata, both pieces I've heard many times. I found his playing to be personal and intimate in a way that really engaged me. The Prokofiev piece, new to me, was profound. I'd love to hear him do more Shostakovich; that encore was terrific!

Judy Nikolai

Posted: 2/6/16 -- 11:45 pm