Is the piano overrated?

IN BRIEF: IGOR LEVIT

... the bizarre concert grand piano

There are no bizarre concert grand pianos! There are no bad grand pianos either, only bad pianists. To question a concert because of the instrument is stupid. In a small town in China I once played on a grand piano that had no keys. Or in Ethiopia on a grand piano, where a nail was stuck in the hinge of the lid because there was nothing else. But I have a problem with making fun of these funny anecdotes because these instruments are a given for the local people.

... Russian food

No opinion! Basically, I think food is great. I also think Russian food is great, but I don't have a specific opinion about it. Not a favorite dish either. All food is great. I really like to eat.

... his main source of inspiration

My environment: friends, teachers, impressions - just everything. What I read in the newspaper that day, what I experienced and heard, are all sources of inspiration for me. I am a walking kaleidoscope there. Of course there are also many people who have shaped me a lot. Starting with my parents, my family, school friends, teachers, fellow students ... I don't want to forget anyone or put anyone above others.

... piano competitions

Important and necessary. Anyone who claims the opposite either doesn't know how a career as a musician works or is just arrogant and snooty. Because to say: competitions are rubbish and I don't take part is ignorant. It is clear that none of us are born with concerts. But each of us doesn't want to make music for himself in his own four walls, but also for others. And if you use the competition as a platform to play for an audience, then that has to be respected. For me it was no different when I played at the Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv in 2005. Competitions have their downs too, no question about it, but my personal experience has been very positive.

…Vacation

Always wanted, but in the end, I think, overrated. Personally, I couldn't do anything with “put my feet up for 14 days”. For others, vacation may mean getting away from everyday life. But I have no everyday life in my job. Of course, days are important when nothing happens. Driving away, not for work to visit friends, I do that all the time, but it's not an escape from everyday life. Sometimes it's time with and sometimes without the piano, I never plan that in advance. Sometimes it works without a piano, but never without music. It's in my head every waking minute.

… Superlatives in concert reviews

If you allude to the sentence from the FAZ criticism that is quoted everywhere ("This young man not only has what it takes to become one of the great pianists of this century. He already is.") - I'm happy about that at the moment, of course, but then that's ticked off and work, life goes on. I didn't play the piano any other way because of that. But it was a special moment when the article came out. Pressure of expectation? I do it myself anyway. But it certainly had a positive impact on my career, I got a lot of reactions to it.

…Homeland

This is home for me: my friends, my family. For me it can be anywhere, in Hanover, where I live, or in other cities where friends are. Russia, where I was born, may only play a subconscious role. It certainly affects what shaped my parents, their life experience, their memories. But that is not present in my everyday life.

... record cover (Igor Levit just got his first record deal)

Everything that happens there just has to suit me and be credible. Then new photos will be taken - where and when, you will then see. There has to be a unity. I also need to know why and why this and that is there. You can't look at that in isolation, but only as a whole with the record. For my first CD I will record Beethoven's late sonatas. They are vital to me.