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Thursday, December 10, 2020

Beth Levin, Hammerklavier Live, Levin Plays Handel, Eliasson, Beethoven


On September 6, 2017 I was happy to review a solo piano CD by Beth Levin here on this blog page. Some three years later now I report in on a new one. I have been listening happily to Hammerklavier Live (A.R. ARCD011), her latest effort. It is a worthwhile program of music with strong interpretations and an earnestly committed zest that marks it all as special.

Following the program sequence we first hear Handel's "Third Suite in D minor" from his BWV 428 "8 Suites de Pieces pour le Clavecin." A singing tone and pronounced rubato gives the brilliant contrapuntal music a pianistic poeticism that works completely and satisfyingly.

We are then treated to something in the Modern zone--Anders Eliasson's "Carosello (Disegno No. 3 for Piano)" (2005). It spells the mood nicely with a continuation of the dynamic lining of phrase but this time giving out with a melo-harmonic currency, a present-day essence that refreshes as Ms. Levin gives us more of the vibrant expressivity that we initially interacted with in the Handel reading.

On from there is a most distinctive epic sprawl, Levin's dramatic reading of Beethoven's "Hammerklavier Sonata" (No. 29 in B-flat major, Op. 106). Of course the sonata is one of Beethoven's evergreen works, a breakthrough among breakthroughs and Ms. Levin gives it all the attention and enthusiastic focus it deserves. It is a fitting climax for a very worthy program and a performance, filled with fire and pianistic fireworks, a reading that has a timeless landmark feel but too also a very pointed Contemporary "you-are-there" quality. She gives us a uniquely vibrant reading rivaling some of the very best.

You come for the Beethoven and you get the very worthwhile bonus of the Handel and Eliasson. It is a CD to make the piano lover rejoice. Beth Levin is in her own way a master of living piano brilliance. Live with her Hammerklavier for a while and I think you will see what I mean.

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