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Life – Igor Levit, piano (Sony 542445)

We featured this album last year, but its contemplation of the continuation of life, of how music is handed down from one generation to another, and of eternity itself.is timely now.  It’s an imaginary recital with a vast emotional range – from tender intimacy to the sublime and monumental.  Igor Levit poses as a guide to regions of music that ask the big questions of human existence – questions about meaning and permanence, inner peace, memory and redemption.  He reflects at the keyboard on the experience of loss, hovering between grief and despair, resignation and solace, choosing works whose bleak grandeur and melancholy beauty have occupied him for years.  Poetic moments of quiet contemplation confront life-affirming, highly sensual music of immediate spellbinding physicality.  Levit’s deliberately subjective selection owes much to pianist/composer/arranger Ferruccio Busoni.  There’s his Fantasia after Bach, his Berceuse, and Busoni’s arrangement of Liszt’s mighty organ work Fantasy & Fugue on 'Ad nos, ad salutarem undam.  Rounding out the thoughtful program are Brahms’s arrangement for left hand alone of the Bach Chaconne, Schumann’s Ghost Variations, two Wagner transcriptions by Liszt—the Solemn March to the Holy Grail from Parsifal and the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde—and Peace Piece by Bill Evans,