Pianist Igor Levit is set to release a new album featuring two modernist cycles: Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues and Ronald Stevenson’s rarely performed Passacaglia on DSCH.
Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues encompass every major and minor tonality and usually last about two and a half hours.
‘There is something utterly unique about their combination of warmth, immediacy and pure loneliness,’ says Levit. ‘For me, it is a ritual of self-exploration and self-discovery that deals with the most intimate questions.’
Ronald Stevenson turned to Shostakovich for inspiration for his Passacaglia on DSCH, a set of variations based on Shostakovich’s musical monogram of DSCH. Shostakovich used it as a pattern within his own work, with the letters based on the German note names. It works through a span of more than 300 variations.
Both cycles were written around the same time, with Shostakovich completing his set in 1951 and Stevenson working on his until 1963. As both are such demanding, lengthy works (the Passacaglia on DSCH clocks in at nearly an hour and a half), Levit‘s recording will be released in a 3-CD series, with separate vinyl releases for the Shostakovich and Stevenson.
The album will be released on Sony Classical on 10 September, with the first single – Shostakovich’s Prelude No. 1 in C – out on 28 May. Levit made his recording debut on the label in 2013 with an album of Beethoven’s late piano sonatas, after having signed a record deal at the age of 25. During this time, he was a BBC New Generation Artist.