10 o’clock UK time

(Dec 15) Today Igor Levit releases a new album as his personal artistic reaction to the October 7 attacks on Israel and the current rise in anti-Semitism worldwide. The album contains his selection of ‘Songs without Words’ by Felix Mendelssohn and concludes with one Prelude by French Romantic composer Charles-Valentin Alkan.  Igor Levit and his team have given their time pro-bon, and his proceeds will be donated to two German organizations fighting anti-Semitism – OFEK Advice Center for Anti-Semitic Violence and Discrimination and the Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism.

Igor Levit explains, “I made this recording out of a very, very strong inner necessity. I spent the first four or five weeks after the attack on October 7th in a mixture of speechlessness and total paralysis. And at some point, it became clear that I had no other tools than to react as an artist. I have the piano. I have my music. And so, the idea came to me to record these works, the ‘Songs without Words’ and to donate my proceeds from this recording to two wonderful organizations that work in my hometown here in Berlin to help people who experience anti-Semitism and to help young people avoid falling into the clutches of anti-Semitism. It is my artistic reaction, as a person, as a musician, as a Jew, to what I have felt in the last few weeks and months. Or to put it more precisely, it is one of many reactions that came to mind.”

The album furthers Igor Levit’s endeavors in the fight against rising anti-Semitism. He has recently spoken out about its alarming escalation in many prominent German media and discussed its impact on Jews today with the German Vice-Chancellor on the 85th anniversary of Pogrom Night (Crystal Night), the video of which was released online. In November he also travelled to Tel Aviv to play for the families of Israeli hostages and most recently organized a solidarity concert with many prominent German musicians, authors and presenters, as well as Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer, where proceeds were donated to the same two organizations as for the album.  He plans to organize similar solidarity concerts in more countries in due course. 

The choice of repertoire for the album simply felt right for Igor Levit, who has played many of Mendelssohn’s ‘Songs without Words’ privately and cites that a “certain melancholy” to the works has given him some solace in recent times. He considers Alkan’s Prélude Op.31: No. 8 ‘La chanson de la folle au bord de la mer’ as a kind of ‘Song without Words’ and an intuitive conclusion to the recording. 

The striking cover image was taken by photographer Markus Hurek and shows the necklace gifted to Igor Levit some years ago, with an original representation of the Star of David.

‘Mendelssohn – Song without Words’ is released digitally worldwide today on Sony Classical.

Tracklist:

FELIX MENDELSSOHN

Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without Words)

1            Op. 19: No. 1 in E Major (Andante con moto), MWV U 86

2            Op. 19: No. 2 in A Minor (Andante espressivo), MWV U 80

3            Op. 19: No. 4 in A Major (Moderato), MWV U 73

4            Op. 19: No. 6 in G Minor (Andante sostenuto), MWV U 78 “Venetianisches Gondellied”

5            Op. 30: No. 1 in E Flat Major (Andante espressivo), MWV U 103

6            Op. 30: No. 3 in E Major, (Adagio non troppo), MWV U 104

7            Op. 30: No. 6 in F Sharp Minor (Allegretto tranquillo), MWV U 110, “Venetianisches Gondellied”

8            Op. 38: No. 2 in C Minor (Allegro non troppo), MWV U 115 

9            Op. 38: No. 6 in A Flat Major (Andante con moto), MWV U 119 “Duetto”

10          Op. 53: No. 4 in F Major (Adagio), MWV U 114

11          Op. 53: No. 5 in A Minor (Allegro con fuoco), MWV U 153 “Volkslied”

12          Op. 62: No. 3 in E Minor (Andante maestoso), MWV U 117 “Trauermarsch”

13          Op. 62: No. 5 in A Minor (Andante con moto), MWV U 151 “Venetianisches Gondellied”

14          Op. Posth. 102: No. 1 in E Minor (Andante un poco agitato), MWV U 162

CHARLES-VALENTIN ALKAN

15          25 Préludes, Op.31: No. 8 La chanson de la folle au bord de la mer