Paul Lewis

Schubert: Piano Sonatas

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After his largely superb cycle of Beethoven's piano music (solo and orchestral), hot British pianist Paul Lewis returns to Schubert, a composer with whom he has often been identified in his concert career. As with Beethoven, Lewis has an uncanny ability to approach Schubert's scores seemingly afresh, with an ear open to the smallest details. His Schubert may be a bit less immediately compelling than Beethoven sonatas in which tremendous harmonic momentum is made to shift direction in entirely unexpected ways, but there are lovely touches all through this two-disc set. In the Op. 90 set of Impromptus, D. 899, Lewis manages to emphasize the amazingly progressive quality of Schubert's music without taking it beyond its proper chamber dimensions. For all his ravishing melodies, Schubert was a composer who wrote music for small groups of thoughtful connisseurs, and Lewis' interpretations respect that. The album includes the three piano sonatas coming immediately before the towering works of the last year of Schubert's life, and each one receives a very finely detailed and beautifully controlled performance. Sample his handling of the chromatic half-step running through the first movement of the Piano Sonata in C major, D. 840 ("Reliquie"), a troublesome piece that can seem shapeless, for a taste of the Lewis magic. A very fine Schubert collection from a player who has emerged as a major artist.

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