1 CD
Label: Tristan
Published in September 2022

Composer: Hans Werner Henze

Piano Igor Levit
Conductor Franz Welser-Möst

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig


Igor Levit is one of the most successful and best-known classical artists around. His recordings are bestsellers in the charts, and media interest in this unusual artist, who often speaks out on non-musical topics, is unbroken. His new album is called "Tristan," and once again Levit presents a special program. The repertoire of "Tristan" spans some 135 years: the period from about 1837 to 1973. Very different genres meet, and only one of the works is originally conceived for solo piano. After the albums "Life" (2018), "Encounter - Begegnung" (2020), the music of "Tristan" is now about the connection between love, death and the need for redemption.

Levit's own thoughts on "Tristan" revolve less around the themes of love and death as such than around experiences of the night and the nocturnal - as a dark counter-world to conscious activity during the day, as a kind of psychic state of exception: "The night has so many faces. It can mean refuge and loss of control, it stands for love and death, and it is also the zone of deep fears," Levit says. "Wagner's 'Tristan and Isolde' virtually stages a kind of emotional meltdown. All the essential events of the piece take place at night. Hans Werner Henze, too, speaks of dreams and dreamlike hallucinations in his memoirs of the time when 'Tristan' was written." In addition to Wagner's prelude to "Tristan and Isolde," arranged for solo piano by Zoltán Kocsis, Hans Werner Henze's composition "Tristan" is an important piece on the album. Henze's "Tristan - Préludes for Piano, Tape and Orchestra" is a rapturously sophisticated hybrid of solo piano, electronics, concerto and symphony. The recording is Levit's first orchestral production ever. Together with Franz Welser-Möst, he has performed the evocative work, of which only the compromised recording conducted by the composer was previously available, both at the Salzburg Festival and with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig; the present recording was made in connection with the Leipzig concerts in 2019.

Franz Liszt's famous "Liebestraum" is known today as a sentimental encore, yet this Nocturne in A-flat major is also thoroughly grounded in tragedy. It goes back to an art song by Liszt on verses by Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810-1876). The beginning of the poem reads: "O lieb', so lang du lieben kannst!, O lieb', so lang du lieben magst!, Die Stunde kommt, die Stunde kommt, wo du an Gräbern stehst und klagst!". There is also nightly despair in Mahler's 10th Symphony, for at the end of July 1910, in the midst of working on the first movement of his tenth, the composer learned of an affair his wife was having. Igor Levit plays the famous "Adagio" in a little-known piano transcription by Scottish composer Ronald Stevenson, for whose great "Passacaglia on DSCH" he campaigned so hard in concerts and the last recording, "On DSCH."

At the end of the album is the "Harmonies du soir," the eleventh of Franz Liszt's 12 "Études d'exécution transcendante," and in it a reconciliation shines forth. These "evening sounds" form the peaceful counterpart to the ecstasies and dreams that befall the night devotees in Wagner or Mahler.

Source: Sony Classical


CD 1

1 Franz Liszt: Liebestraum No. 3 in A-Flat Major, S. 541/3 (3:54)
- Igor Levit Klavier

Hans Werner Henze: Tristan
2 I. Prologue (6:27)
3 II. Lament (6:25)
4 III. Preludes And Variations (10:58)
5 IV. Tristan's Folly (5:37)
6 V. Adagio - Burla I - Burla II - Ricercare I - Burla III - Ricercare Ii (5:48)
7 VI. Epilogue (14:05)

CD 2

1 Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde: Prelude (Arr. for Solo Piano by Zoltan Kocsis) (10:51)
- Igor Levit Klavier
- Zoltan Kocsis Arrangeur

2 Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 10: Adagio (Arr. for Solo Piano by Ronald Stevenson) (27:53)
- Igor Levit Klavier
- Ronald Stevenson Arrangeur

3 Franz Liszt: Transcendental Etudes, S.139: XI. Harmonies du soir (9:59)
- Igor Levit Klavier