Paul Lewis

Weber, Schubert: Sonatas

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British pianist Paul Lewis has often played Schubert and Beethoven, offering detailed, probing readings of familiar repertory works. If you're collecting his Schubert recordings, by all means pick up this release, which features the early Piano Sonata in B major, D. 575. It's one of those early Schubert works that contains wild harmonic experimentation, and Lewis explores its twists and turns effectively. But the real novelty here is Carl Maria von Weber's rarely performed Piano Sonata No. 2 in A flat major, Op. 39. It's a work that the first wave of the Romantics might well have known, and annotator Joseph Morgan's characterization of the sonata as "the ground from which the Romantic piano sprang" is not excessive. Weber's sonata does not really sound like either Beethoven or Schubert, although if you had to pick one of the two it would be the latter because of its orientation toward dance as a common element. Really, Weber sounds like the operatic conductor he was, with flowing lines elegantly joined together into larger structures. Sample the opening "Allegro moderato," which is a good deal less chromatic than even the sonata of the youthful Schubert, but is a very satisfyingly coherent piece. Lewis is aided by excellent Harmonia Mundi sound from Berlin's Teldex studio. Highly recommended.

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