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Igor Levit - Live from Wigmore Hall, live on BBC3 / theguardian review

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Igor Levit, the Russian-German pianist born in 1987, has already proved a wizard at Beethoven. His recordings of the late sonatas, and of the Diabelli Variations, hoovered up awards and superlatives. This autumn, Levit began his first complete series of Beethoven sonatas, in London and Brussels, spread out between now and March. Since Beethoven took some four decades of his 56-year life to write this body of 32 works, an enforced breathing space between concerts comes as a reward: time for reflection and anticipation instead merely of open-mouthed amazement after the more usual rapid marathon.

On the evidence of last Monday's Wigmore Hall concert, broadcast live on Radio 3, I regret having missed the first two in the series. Levit catapulted the explosive opening of Op 10, No 1 in C minor into life, the entire work unfolding with turbulence alternating with hushed serenity. These outer limits in which Levit so delights give his playing a sense of risk, that variety of light and shade you might find in Goya's equally monolithic groups of prints, Los Caprichos, created in the same period (artist and composer died a year apart). This is Levit's style, closer to the analytical clarity of, say, Alfred Brendel than to the spacious freedoms of Daniel Barenboim: all three pianists, however different, understand Beethoven's wit, the bright gleam that unites this entire body of music.

READ THE FULL guardian REVIEW