Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4: Op. 10, Nos 1-3; Op. 28; Op. 49, Nos 1 & 2; Op. 81a (Les Adieux); Op. 109; Op. 110; Op. 111

Album title:
Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4: Op. 10, Nos 1-3; Op. 28; Op. 49, Nos 1 & 2; Op. 81a (Les Adieux); Op. 109; Op. 110; Op. 111
Paul Lewis (piano)
Harmonia Mundi
Catalogue Number:
HMC 901909-11
BBC Music Magazine

Paul Lewis’s fine Beethoven cycle for Harmonia Mundi is not arranged chronologically, but appropriately enough this final volume ends with the last sonata triptych of Opp. 109‑111. Lewis plays all three works with characteristic warmth and beauty of tone, and you’re not likely to hear them more sensitively and intelligently done. I still find myself returning to the 1950s version of these great works by Solomon, who is every bit as serene as Lewis in the ‘Arietta’ finale of Op. 111, and conveys perhaps a more profound sense of world-weariness in the Arioso dolente of Op. 110; but Lewis is not far behind. Lewis’s expressive mellowness stands him in good stead in the remaining works here, too, particularly the last of the Op. 10 group, with its tragic slow movement in the minor, and the Pastoral, Op. 28. Even the two little sonatas Op. 49 (much earlier than their opus number would suggest) emerge as substantial pieces in their own right. There are times elsewhere – but they are few – when it’s possible to feel the interpretations could do with a shade more characterisation and tension: Richard Goode, for instance, lives more dangerously in the outer movements of the turbulent C minor Sonata Op. 10 No. 1, and in his hands the witty finale of its successor really sparkles. But these are small points, and Lewis’s cycle as a whole has been remarkably consistent. Misha Donat

Schubert: String Quintet in C, D956; Quartettsatz in C minor
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Buxtehude: Organ Works, Vol. 1: Chorale Fantasia, 'Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein' BuxWV 210; plus BuxWV 139, 150, 151, 157, 159, 162, 168, 174, 178, 179, 184, 195, 205, 208 & 221
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