Paul Lewis, Beethoven: Sonates pour piano, vol.1

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A young piano star begins to come into his own with a sterling collection of Beethoven piano sonatas.

This disc demonstrates the wisdom and courage of Harmonia Mundi's A&R policy. Paul Lewis, a young British pianist and pupil of Alfred Brendel, has been making waves for his intellectually probing performances of the core Austro-Germanic repertoire. What does HM do? It signs him up to record all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas, the kind of gesture once the gift of major companies (though only EMI was brave enough to record this Everest of a cycle with a comparably young artist, Daniel Barenboim). This first volume couples the three Op. 31 sonatas with great success. Every note betrays Lewis'careful consideration of these great works: the second of the trio, the so-called "Tempest Sonata," gives the impression of a relaxed surface under which the tight structure of the work is held in an iron grip, musical and philosophical conviction residing in every measure. If you don't know the sonatas, hitch a ride with Paul Lewis, there are few finer guides among today's crop of young piano stars.