ʻWhat makes these so special? High energy and supreme confidence combined with a beautiful tone and a profound sensitivity, all of them utterly at the service of the music.ʼ Gramophone, Critic's Choice, October 2012.
For a number of years, the piano music of Ludwig van Beethoven has dominated the recordings of British pianist Paul Lewis on Harmonia Mundi, though since 2011 he has also recorded the sonatas of Franz Schubert, an equal interest to him. This 2014 album of the last four piano sonatas may bring with it expectations of a grand statement: the late piano sonatas, like the final string quartets, the piano trios, the "String Quintet," the last songs, and other works of 1828 carry with them the gravitas of Schubert's illness and impending death, and some aspect of the composer's mortality is usually addressed in performances of these works.
Lewis is qualified to offer meaningful interpretations of Schubert's artistic intentions, though what might not be expected is the weightlessness, ease, energy, and joy that he communicates in these sonatas, expressive choices that rises above the biographical.
They are masterfully played and marvelously recorded, so such technical matters don't interfere with the pure appreciation of the music. Drama and pathos are here, of course, along with tenderness and lyricism, but Lewis doesn't dwell morbidly on the darker aspects, preferring instead to let the light shine through.
It certainly does in all four works, and even though there are moments of intense passion, gloom, and even fury, one comes away from hearing these sonatas with a sense of the wholeness of Schubert's conceptions, including his ineffable serenity, and Lewis' balanced choices are fully justified. Highly recommended.
“Paul Lewis réussit à apporter derrière chaque note, chaque mesure, la densité et la profondeur indispensables à la musique de Schubert.” Classica, novembre 2012.
„Stärker noch als sein alter Lehrer vermittelt Lewis ein Bild, das den Wiener Beethoven-Altersgenossen als einen Vorläufer Mahlers in Anspruch nimmt, um der immer noch herumspukenden Vorstellung vom naiven und harmlosen Schubert den Garaus zu machen.“ Fono Forum, 2012
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