Paul Lewis
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4
(Harmonia Mundi)


Paul Lewis is “nothing if not an able, thoughtful musician,” said Scott Cantrell in The Dallas Morning News. In his final volume of Beethoven piano sonatas, the English pianist displays a “deft balance” of rigorous technique and musical intelligence. He tackles 12 compositions, ranging from the Op. 10 pieces of 1798 to Beethoven’s final sonatas from the 1820s. Too often, however, his performances come across as “a little too well-behaved.” Lewis holds too much in reserve, only hinting at the “music’s wit, its flirting with danger, its ecstasy.” His voice may be “quiet and distinctive,” said Bryce Morrison in Gramophone. But Lewis “can lift even the most familiar phrase on to another sphere” and here makes each of Beethoven’s sonatas glow with their “first radiance and eloquence.” He also knows when to let loose, said Anthony Tommasini in The New York Times, and his imagination “carries these performances.” On Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Lewis plays with “such boldness and fancy” that it seems he might be improvising, while he storms through the first movement of Sonata No. 32 in C minor “with a wildness that never turns reckless.”