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Igor Levit plays Birmingham Town Hall / Birmingham Post

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He played spotlit surrounded on four sides by a hushed and fascinated audience – like a green baize gladiator in the world snooker championships. Indeed it was gladiatorial as the Russian pianist alternately charmed, beguiled, hammered and finally finessed into submission Frederic Rzewski's epic The People United Will Never Be Defeated. Levit has recently recorded it along with Bach's Goldberg Variations and Beethoven's Diabelli Variations. It doesn't have their musical substance but it's a flamboyant, hugely demanding yet audience-friendly showpiece. The intimate and intensely involving in-the-round layout was a huge success – when did we last get a standing ovation for a piano recital at the Town Hall? So why aren't more solo and chamber music recitals presented this way?

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