Paul Lewis

19:30 on Tuesday, 23rd February 2010

Paul Lewis is one of the most sought after pianists of his generation. He is widely celebrated for his considered and profound interpretations of the classical repertoire. He has performed in all the major concert venues throughout the world and with the most prestigious orchestras and conductors. Skipton Music is pleased to welcome this distinguished artist.

It is rare to find a pianist with such a complete control of technique coupled with such a superb sense of the drama of the Music. Paul Lewis began his recital with Mozart's Adagio in B minor (K540) and from the opening bars he demonstrated his mastery of touch and exquisite cantando. The Adagio was operatic in its concept, romantically created by discrete use of the sustaining pedal and rubato. The architecture of the music was never lost, and it was enriched by tone painting and poignant phrasing.

The Adagio was followed by Schumann's Fantasie in C (Op 17). This is a perplexing work which although it is a 'tour de force' for the pianist and full of emotion, it is marred by lapses of taste which tend to destroy the overall grandeur and purpose of the music. Paul Lewis's technique was faultless and his interpretation excellent, but even he was pushed to overcome the weaknesses of the thematic material and the structural failings. Nonetheless he created some sublime moments with his use of both pedals, and he exploited his instrument to the full. Paradoxically his superb grasp of the music laid it open to show its weaknesses rather more than its strengths. It was a case of the pianist being greater than the composer.

Vallee d'Obermann by Liszt gave Mr Lewis full reign to show his mastery of tone colour and mood changes. He painted the Lisztian picture perfectly with faultless technique and a mind-boggling palette of tone colour.

The beginning of the Waldstein Sonata by Beethoven was a revelation. Gone was the old-style thumping of the opening chords. Instead the music emerged from mysterious mists and the themes were developed from the texture, as opposed to being blatantly emphasised, - a technique which is so regularly employed by less thoughtful musicians. The adagio was masterly and it paved the way for an elegant final movement. This was one of the finest performances I have heard of the Waldstein.

Paul Lewis uses his formidable technique as a vehicle for interpretation which is scholarly, musical and dramatic. He is a fine musician who plays with integrity and conviction.

Adrienne Fox