Yoav Levanon set to debut with a challenging tribute to Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Schumann
For his debut on Warner Classics, the 17-year-old pianist Yoav Levanon – whose musical mentors include Daniel Barenboim, András Schiff and Murray Perahia – has chosen a demanding programme of works by Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Schumann. Entitled AMonument for Beethoven, his album honours the contribution made by those four composers – especially Liszt – when the city of Bonn staged festivities in 1845 to mark the 75th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. (Beethoven had died in 1827.) In particular, they helped to raise funds for the statue of Beethoven, sculpted by Ernst Julius Hähnel, which has since stood in Bonn’s cathedral square. As Yoav Levanon says: “To me, their involvement in memorialising Beethoven is emblematic of the great fellowship and solidarity that exists among musicians.” *
Liszt’s mighty Sonata in B minor, a work finalised in 1853, is followed by Chopin’s Prélude in C sharp minor from op 45, Mendelssohn’s Variations sérieuses in D minor and Schumann’s three-movement Fantaisie op 17. Completing the programme is another piece by Liszt, the brilliant étude ‘La campanella’, which is based on a theme by Paganini.
“I love performing these pieces, which represent a broad spectrum of colours and ideas,” says Levanon. “They comprise a stunning assemblage of profound feelings in a wide and dynamic range of colours and stirring virtuosity.” He traces a “musical journey for the listener that traverses many distinct planes: from the profundity of spiritual existence to earthly life and the glory and honour of mankind, to the diabolic and tempestuous reaches of the heart, to the simple, fascinating and unending beauty of life.”
Levanon played the Monument for Beethoven programme in Summer 2020 at the Piano aux Jacobins festival in Toulouse and later in the year at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. The authoritative French newspaper Le Monde judged him to be “already a great pianist,” while the magazine Diapason made clear that he is “more than a stunning virtuoso,” finding that “his assertive interpretative choices already make him an authentic musician, who has everything to become one of the major pianists of this century.”
2020 had started for Yoav Levanon with a recital under Martha Argerich’s aegis at Schloss Elmau in Germany. Over the course of 2020 and 2021 his schedule also took him to Switzerland, Russia, Latvia, Georgia (playing double concertos by Mozart and Bach with the distinguished pianist Sergei Babayan at the Tsinandali Festival) and Israel, the country where he grew up and started learning piano at the age of three; within two years he had made his public debut and won his first piano competition.
In 2019 he made a major impact at the prestigious Verbier Festival in Switzerland, prompting the Geneva-based newspaper Le Tempsto write of his “magic touch”, asserting that “He is an authentic musician, innately and naturally lyrical … The Israeli pianist intuitively traces the architecture of a work and the melodic curve of a phrase … His playing is full of supple elegance …” Later in the year he made high-profile appearances at the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid.
“Being a musician is a never-ending exploration,” he says. “I would say that it doesn't matter whether you are one year old or a thousand years old, there are still so many wonders, and there is always so much more to learn about the music that you are playing. That's what is so amazing about art. However, many musicians play the same piece, it will never be the same. That’s the beauty of it all.
“I think that classical music has something special and unique of its own. We can see that younger generations are still listening to it and loving it, appreciating it in a different way from music of any other genre ... I think that classical music is always going to be something unique … something that we take into our heart in a different way – and it will always stay there.”
* In January 2022 the Beethoven statue was removed for restoration. It is scheduled to be back in its usual place in Bonn’s Münsterplatz in Summer 2022.
02 August 2021
Yoav Levanon, the young Israeli-French piano prodigy signs an exclusive contract with Warner Classics
Aged 17, Yoav Levanon has already a remarkable career: having won numerous international prizes, he has played on prestigious stages all over the world, with high-level partners, and has received an enthusiastic welcome from both the public and the critics, who salute his extraordinary musical maturity.
For his first CD with Warner Classics, Yoav Levanon has chosen a well thought-out program built around the donors who made it possible to build the famous monument to Beethoven in Bonn: Liszt, Schumann, Chopin and Mendelssohn wrote works whose proceeds would go towards financing this statue, inaugurated in 1845 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the composer's birth.
We have been following this child prodigy for several years now, patiently waiting for his artistic temperament to develop, and for the prodigy to become an artist. Yoav Levanon, with his unique personality and exceptional pianistic and musical means, demonstrates that to a well-born musical soul, value does not wait for the number of years: he did not hesitate to take on a pianistic Everest for his first album: Liszt's Sonata, a work that earned him this review in Le Monde: "a dazzling display of tact and fury, virtuosity and exhilaration, sovereign fluidity of articulation, and more than that, a breathtaking science of narrative.” We are very happy to start a long-term collaboration with Yoav today, which shows our desire to accompany him to the top. - Bertrand Castellani, Warner Classics
Yoav Levanon appears on stage from the age of 4, at 5 he became a winner of his first National Piano Competition in Israel. At 6, Yoav won his first Gold Medal at an International Piano Competition in the USA and performed on the prestigious stage of the Carnegie Hall in New York. He made his orchestral debut with Israel Chamber Orchestra at the age of 7. At the age of 11, he gave the first Chopin Concerto under the direction of Daniel Oren who said of him: "This child's depth is indescribable......the way he sings, the poetry of this boy is extraordinary, truly extraordinary! And he captivates the audience” The Verbier Festival contributed to his international revelation, he then played at the Festival Piano aux Jacobins in Toulouse before pursuing his remarkable way, solo or with international orchestras and partners throughout the world.
Yoav is guided by top piano professors and musicians in Israel and abroad and he is privileged to take part in the ‘Piano Program for outstanding young pianists’ at the Jerusalem Music Center, directed by the distinguished American concert pianist and conductor, Murray Perahia.
Yoav: “I am very excited to become part of the Warner Classics family. I feel very warm welcomed by an exceptional team of professionals, that are open minded and care for me as an artist and as a person. It is a great honor to be accompanied by such a wonderful team and I look forward to a long term of an enjoyable and fruitful collaboration”.