Beth Levin, Beth Levin pianist, Beth Levin piano, classissima, Navona Records, The Last Three Beethoven sonatas played by Beth Levin

Beth Levin, pianist, surfaces from one of my past lives

A subscriber to my Facebook page planted a blurry memory of herself when she complimented my blog in a private message. The name rang familiar, but I couldn’t precisely place it. At first glance, I knew she was a reputable musician with a stash of impressive You Tubes but beyond that, my memory faded.

A mouse click to the pianist’s official website, brought a more well-defined profile. Among snatches from posted concert reviews, one caught my eye. It was a quote from the late Allan Skei, Fresno Bee Arts editor.

Oh My God! I WAS THERE! seated in the audience on that memorable musical evening in agriculture’s heartland!

I could hardly catch my breath as I fired off an email to “Beth Levin,” the pianist who moved me to tears as she rippled through the Allegretto movement of Beethoven’s “Tempest” Sonata, Op. 31.

Immediately following her performance, I ran back stage to greet her, dribbling on with superlatives.

The love fest took place well over 25 years ago, at Northwest Church, the original venue for the Free College Foundation-sponsored Keyboard Concerts before the series relocated to Fresno State’s Recital Hall.

A rain-swept night, I shielded myself under an umbrella, crying all the way home, thinking about my New York City-based piano teacher, Lillian Freundlich, who, like Beth, played from the heart.


Now decades later, Beth Levin is about to release her latest album, April 30th to be exact, on Navona Records.


A Single Breath, Beethoven’s Last Three Piano Sonatas

Here’s a sneak preview of the opener, no. 30 in E Major, Op. 109

The pianist’s CD earns my glowing recommendation!

More from “A Single Breath”

Amazon Link:

About Beth Levin (from her website)

“Beth Levin’s artistry invokes an uncanny sense of hearing for the first time
works long thought familiar, as though the pianist herself were discovering
a piece in the playing of it. Such a style of refreshment and renewal can be
traced back to Levin’s unique artistic lineage. As a child prodigy, she made
her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age 12. She was subsequently
taught and guided by legendary pianists such as Rudolf Serkin, Leonard
Shure, Dorothy Taubman and Paul Badura-Skoda (who praised her as “a pianist
of rare qualities and the highest professional caliber”). Her deep well of
experience allows Levin to reach back through the golden age of the Romantic
composers and connect to the sources of the great pianistic traditions, to
Bach, to Mozart, to Beethoven.

“Levin has appeared as a concerto soloist with numerous symphony orchestras,
including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Boston
Civic Symphony and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. She has worked with noted
conductors such as Arthur Fiedler, Tonu Kalam, Milton Katims, Joseph
Silverstein and Benjamin Zander. Chamber music festival collaborations have
brought her to the Marlboro Festival, Casals Festival, Harvard, the
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Ankara Music Festival and the Blue Hill
Festival, collaborating with such groups such as the Gramercy Trio (founding
member), the Audubon Quartet, the Vermeer Quartet and the Trio Borealis,
with which she has toured extensively.

“Among Levin’s recordings are live performances of Bach’s Goldberg
Variations, (Centaur Records, 2008) and Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations
(Centaur Records, 2011). Her interpretation of the Diabelli Variations has
been described as “consistently fascinating” (Steve Smith, NY Times) and
simply “stunning” (Robert Levine, Stereophile Magazine). Of Levin’s Goldberg
Variations, Peter Burwasser of Fanfare Magazine stated that she plays “as if
she is in love with the notes….with always the sense that she is exploring
Bach’s genius.” Her performances have been broadcast on National Public
Radio, WGBH (Boston), WFMT (Chicago) and WNYC, WNYE and WQXR (New York).

“For all her devotion to the Romantic canon, Levin remains committed to the
performance of the music of our time, interpreting composers such as Henryk
Gorecki, Scott Wheeler, Mohammed Farouz and Michael Rose, among many others.
Her closest collaborators have been the composers David Del Tredici and
Andrew Rudin, both of whom have written works for her.”

Beth Levin, Elaine Comparone, fingering choices and pianists, Irina Morozova pianist, Mozart, Mozart Allegretto K. 545, Seymour Bernstein, Uncategorized, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Fingering snarls in Mozart’s Allegretto, Sonata in C, K. 545 and suggested remedies from the experts

We all have our nemesis. The last measures (68-73) of Mozart’s rondo: Allegretto, K. 545, Sonata in C Major, have ensnared me, barring smooth passage to final cadence. For others the journey is uneventful.

Who knows? Size of hands, finger length, state of mind, and lack of sleep, might be variables. But more often than not, it’s a booby trap, awkward fingering choice.

That’s why in despair, I called upon 3 fine pianists and an esteemed harpsichordist to dig myself and kindred spirits out of our endless pit of frustration.

To begin with, I uploaded a video segment that explored my initial fingering and practice routines, followed by Irina Morozova’s alternative, and lastly, Seymour Bernstein’s ideas which included an altered landscape of articulation, phrasing, and fingering.

Mozart Allegretto m 68 to 73

In addition, harpsichordist, Elaine Comparone and pianist, Beth Levin, separately e-mailed me their contributions for which I am grateful.

Video 1–where I indicate my chosen fingering in the score. (You can see Irina Morozova’s Right Hand suggestion in the space between staves)

Video 2–I demonstrate Irina Morozova’s choice (RH only–The Left remained unchanged) Fingerings bunched together represent harmonic thirds.

RH 2-4-1-5-2-3-1-2-1-3-24-35-24-13-24-13

Morozova agreed with Seymour Bernstein that there was no fixed fingering to recommend for all pianists.

Video 3
–Seymour Bernstein’s offering

Mozart, K. 545, Allegretto(1)

“For starters, there cannot be a definitive fingering for everyone
since all hands are different. But there are some notational considerations
that will influence our fingering choices. In this case, nothing indicates
legato in M. 68. When there are no slurs, we assume that the tones are to
be played non legato. On the other hand, it is possible that Mozart forgot
to place slurs or other notational indications on particular passages. At
any rate, here are my fingerings, notational signs, and pedal indications.
Notice that on M. 68, the pedal releases are on the second tones of the
slurs, whereas on M. 69 the release is on the 3rds after the slurs. I just
happen to like it that way.”

Elaine Comparone concurred with Morozova, that “the 5 following the 1 works well.”

“for the thirds in the RH, I would
use …..1-2 42-54-42-31-42-31.”

Beth Levin

right hand:

meas. 68: 35152412
meas. 69: 1 2 4/2 5/3 5/3 4/2 3/1 4/2
meas. 70: same as 68
meas. 71: same as 69
meas. 72: 1 5/3/2 5/1 5/1
meas. 73 5/1

left hand:

meas. 68: 31514254
meas. 69: 1 5
meas. 70: same as 68
meas. 71: same as 69
meas. 72: all octaves with 1/5
final meas: 1/5

When all was said and done, this unorthodox fingering worked for me:

2-4-1-5-2-3-1-2-1-2- 42 42 42 31 42 31 (same repeated to the end)
I never would have dreamed that my fingering choice would be a viable alternative, but for my hand, shape, and size, it was a life saver!


Irina Morozova:

Elaine Comparone:
Aglow With Creative Fire

Seymour Bernstein:
Beth Levin