The new album “On DSCH” by Igor Levit is a 3CD discographic tour de force by “one of the essential artists of our time” (The New York Times) and will be out September 10th. That the self-styled “maximalist” enjoys pushing himself to his limits – intellectually and physically – is well known, but the present project – two key cycles of musical modernism - puts all others in the shade.
Completed in 1951, Dmitri Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues – a summary of all the major and minor tonalities – lasts some two and a half hours in total, while Ronald Stevenson’s Passacaglia on DSCH, which he completed in 1963, is an unbroken set of variations lasting nearly an hour and a half. The letters DSCH spell out Shostakovich’s musical monogram using their German note names: D–Es–C–H = D–E♭–C–B. Levit himself describes the 24 Preludes and Fugues as “a kind of musical diary”: “There is something utterly unique”, he says, “about this combination of warmth, immediacy and pure loneliness. For me, it is a ritual of self-exploration and self-discovery that deals with the most intimate questions.”
The album’s artwork is specially created by the internationally renowned graphic artist and book designer Christoph Niemann, who regularly illustrates for “The New Yorker” and “The New York Times”. His illustration for “On DSCH” offers a playfully abstract counterpart to this musical experience.
The 3-disc set is presented in deluxe paper packaging and includes a limited edition printed insert of the “cryptogram” that Shostakovich used as his musical signature plus a special sticker. The album will be available digitally as well.
You can pre-order the album here.