Paul Lewis Plays Beethoven And Brahms

Pianist Paul Lewis tours for Musica Viva
Pianist Paul Lewis performs Beethoven and Brahms

Pianist Paul Lewis returns to Australia in August to tour for Musica Viva, bringing with him a program of piano masterpieces from the European classical repertoire for which he has become renowned.

Lewis is regarded around the world as one of the leading musicians of his generation and is a respected interpreter of the central European classical canon. His numerous awards have included the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year, two Edison and three Gramophone awards. 

Paul Lewis’ programme includes two sonatas by Beethoven and works by Brahms. His performance of all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas on tour in the United States and Europe between his 2005 and 2007 seasons, in parallel with recording the complete cycle for Harmonia Mundi, leave him well placed to interpret these masterworks.

“The combination of Brahms and Beethoven seems to work very well,” says Lewis. “There’s a sort of storytelling, especially in Brahms’ Ballades. The Ballades are more experimental, more radical than Brahms was later. They’re just wonderful pieces.”

The first of Brahms’ Four Ballades tells the story of a son who kills his father.

“It’s astonishing. The point at which the act is committed is very obvious. I can’t think of many instances in music where murder is translated as clearly as it is in this piece,” says Lewis.  

Paul Lewis bookends the evening with two of Beethoven’s last works for piano – the mighty op 111 and op 109 piano sonatas. 

Lewis sees a strong link between the music of the Brahms’ Ballades and Beethoven’s op 111 piano sonata. “Both the last of the Ballades and the Arietta of the 111 are very introspective and timeless music. The Arietta for me is one of those state-of-mind pieces – it really does feel as if time stops in some way” he says. 

Paul notes that there was nothing musical in his house growing up. He recalls that his Dad was a John Denver fan….Lewis actually discovered music on his own, when he began visiting a record library where he would borrow around three records every week. He says that this allowed him to discover music in his own way, and even though his parents didn’t really know much about music, were incredibly supportive of him.

The programme:

Beethoven Piano Sonata no 30 in E major, op 109/  Brahms Four Ballades, op 10, Three Intermezzi, op 117 / Beethoven Piano Sonata no 32 in C minor, op 111.

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