12 November 2011
A Wonderful and Memorable Evening for Piano-lovers.

""A concert review " "

By: Julia Gasper
Those who know Paul Lewis from his Proms appearances or even by reputation were expecting something special at the Sheldonian last night when he gave an all-Schubert recital. They were not disappointed.
Lewis's playing was exciting, powerful and polished to a diamond sparkle. It held the audience enthralled throughout. I have rarely heard a more authoritative interpretation of Schubert than this. Lewis, who studied under Alfred Brendel, performed with a classical poise and with a certain degree of restraint.
There was warmth, poignancy and feeling wherever needed, but this was not an excessively honeyed interpretation. It did not wallow. The rubato was not excessive, except perhaps in the last of the four Impromptus D.935, where Lewis highlighted the angularity and percussive nature of this piece.

Lewis's performance of D.935 was designed to show how right Schumann was to regard this opus as a Sonata incognito rather than a bunch of haphazard pieces. The first Impromptu with its impressive opening and two well-contrasted themes is more or less in sonata form, albeit with an excessively lengthy development section.

The last movement in the same key, F minor, makes a perfectly suitable ending for a Sonata. Lewis took the second piece at a brisk tempo and reserved his lyricism for the variations in number three, leaving us in no doubt of its full depth and poignancy.

The six Moments Musicaux are mainly lighter stuff. They were long known by the name Moments Musicales owing to the bad French of their original, Viennese, publisher, and most are familiar to students of the piano.

Lewis brought out the lyricism and mystery of number one, and the gentle pastoral mood of number two, but really excelled himself in the tempestuous number five, the hardest of the set, which he made grand, expansive and noble.

The climax of the evening was the Wanderer Fantasyin C major, one of the great piano works of the nineteenth century, or indeed of any century. Lewis’s performance was majestic, carrying us away with energy in the heroic, galloping episodes and then holding us in the palm of his hand during the sombre moments. The contrapuntal finale was triumphant and exhilarating. Many of the audience were in rapture.

It absolutely is worth going out on a dank November evening, postponing your dinner and missing the Friday night TV comedy shows to attend a concert as splendid and outstanding as this. I hope to hear Lewis live many more times in the future.

PAUL LEWIS SCHUBERT RECITAL at Sheldonian 11 th November 2011

 1st Aerials Oxford




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