Levit's traversal of the entire cycle is now available on YouTube. I found it to be a convincing cycle, satisfying to me. Many of the caveats are the fast tempi he takes in the outer movements of the early and middle sonatas. Igor channeled some of Schnabel here (who took very fast tempos) as well as Friedrich Gulda. Actually Richard Goode is faster than Levit in many instances. In any case, the fast tempos were not that disconcerting to me. Some of the wit and humor was swept away in Op. 54 and Op. 79. And the Allegretto of the "Waldstein" should have been more expansive, but that coda was thrilling. And the opening statement of the "Waldstein" was propulsive, full of energy and life. The Presto Agitato of the "Moonlight" was very edgy due to the heightened tempos, same as the finale of the "Appassionata". Levit's playing is exemplary, his technical facility never lacking.
Where he really shines is in the slow movements. The "Largo e Mesto " of Opus 10, #3 is sublime, as is the "Hammerclavier" Adagio. His reading of Opus 22 (rarely performed) is beautifully voiced, with judicious use of the sustain and une corda pedal
The tonal gradations and operatic character of the leading voice are marvelous!Levit plays Adagio of Op. 22 Beethoven
On the whole, Levit journeys through the cycle very persuasively. The early period sonatas are very Haydynesque, finishing with the final rondo of Op. 22 with a Mozartean lilt. The middle period shows Beethoven breaking apart the sonata form with the Opus 26 "Marche Funebre" and the two Sonatas "Quasi una Fantasia". Levit's tonal palette and sound spectrum continues to grow, culminating in the late sonatas of Op. 81a, Op. 90 and the final five.These last are from Levit's previous release and they continue to amaze in the unique sound world of Beethoven,
Again, many will take issue with some of the fast tempos, but keep in mind the precedent of Schnabel. As an example, Leviit's timing of the "Appassionata" runs 9.23/5.58/7.58. Schnabel times in at 9.00/6.00/7.12.
All in all, a solid cycle in my opinion. Levit communicates Beethoven successfully, as well as being completely immersed and confident in his views. He takes his risks, just as Schiff is idiosyncratic in some of his interpretations, so is Igor.