Pianist Levin’s historically informed improvisations

Posted on: September 23, 2010

“In a different life, Robert Levin might have been an archaeologist … or a conservator,” writes Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim in Thursday’s (9/23) Wall Street Journal.  “As it is, the pianist, clavichord virtuoso and Harvard music professor specializes in restoration of a different kind. Over the past 40 years Mr. Levin has become an authority on Mozart fragments, completing unfinished works ranging from chamber music to concertos and Masses, including a revised edition of the ‘Requiem’ … For four dates beginning Friday, he will present the latest such reconstruction—of a youthful concerto movement only last year attributed to Mozart—at a series of concerts in the northern California Bay Area. The performances will also showcase Mr. Levin’s skill as an improviser. Since the 1980s, when he developed the practice in a series of concerts with the Academy of Ancient Music, Mr. Levin has been one of the few pianists to improvise cadenzas and embellishments in the style of a given composer. … Mr. Levin has been improvising in a variety of settings, including one performance in which he improvised the endings of unfinished works by Schubert, and concerts in which he invites audience members to submit musical themes during the intermission on which he then extemporizes.”

Posted September 23, 2010