A great piano recital is chamber music in its purest form, intimate but universal. In the hands of a master such as Paul Lewis, it can be a transcendent experience and a personal sharing of ideas and emotions.
Music by Brahms lies at the centre of this program. His Ballades op 10 were written when he was a very young man, and their easy melodiousness is tempered by melancholy. The Intermezzi op 117 came at the other end of his life, when his vows of retiring were often stalled by the creation of new pieces of innovative beauty.
Brahms always struggled with ‘the heavy tread’ of Beethoven, the great master whose works, he felt, were so good as to make life almost impossible for the composers who came after him. Paul Lewis will bookend this program with two of Beethoven’s last works for piano, highlighting the musical relationships between the composers.
The word ‘monumental’ is sometimes applied too lightly, but here it’s completely apt. With these late sonatas Beethoven did what he had previously done to the concerto and the symphony – turned them from showpieces or mere entertainment, into art.
Piano Sonata no 30 in E major, op 109
Four Ballades, op 10
Three Intermezzi, op 117
Piano Sonata no 32 in C minor, op 111