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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
8

on 7 March 2015
Fantastic playing of some of Schubert's greatest sonatas. I am rather obsessed with D960 at the moment, can't get enough of it, and it's very moving to think of Schubert's composing it when he knew he was at death's door. What wonderful music it is.
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on 14 May 2015
For anyone familiar with Paul Lewis's Beethoven Piano Sonatas recordings this is the disc to get if you want the Schubert.There are many older recitals but this is a masterful interpretation.I can thoroughly recommend it.
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on 17 August 2014
A wonderful pianist.I didn't know the late sonatas,but I soon will. Great sound ,excellent recording. Alfred Brendl on record is just as perfect.
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on 8 December 2014
Great. A wonderful example of Paul Lewis at his best.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 August 2014
Sometimes when we listen to a recording, and really like it, we search for the reasons why. Perhaps the tempo and dynamics are different enough from what we're used to that we sit up and take notice. Sometimes it's the sound of the recording. Maybe in an opera there’s a soloist we really like. But occasionally, there's a certain indefinable something that grips you when you hear a new release of music you've known for a long time.

That's how I felt when I settled into listening to Paul Lewis' recent release of Schubert's Late Piano Sonatas. I've heard these works scores of times, but something about Lewis' playing on this set connected with me. I'd heard the first of Lewis' three recent Schubert releases on Harmonia Mundi, and very much liked his interpretations of these works. But in the late sonatas, he comes across as powerful and convincing.

Schubert is one of my favorite composers, and his piano music is something I've been listening to for decades. A recording of his final piano sonata, the B Flat Major sonata, D. 960, performed by Maria João Pires, on Erato, was one of the first CDs I ever bought. I've always been fascinated by this work, by its scale and its subtleties.

What's interesting about this set is that Paul Lewis has maintained his style over more than ten years. The first disc of the two here with D. 784 and D. 958 (and not the second, as the liner notes says) was recorded in 2002, and released many years ago on its own. Since Lewis decided to focus more on Schubert, they have bundled it with the final two late sonatas, D. 959 and D. 960.

I'm struck by the violence of his playing. I recall that, when Lewis released his cycle of Beethoven sonatas, one of the criticisms was that he didn't play the music with the strength it sometimes requires. (I disagree; I very much like his Beethoven cycle.) Schubert's music can be violent, but it can also be suave and sinuous, and Lewis is able to modulate his style as necessary, but he certainly doesn't hold back in the more lively sections of the music. His approach to the final D. 960 sonata is tasteful and energetic, and his sound is excellent, and for the other three late sonatas, he shows that he can modulate his energy as needed.

Lewis seems to understand Schubert as few pianists do. Listening to his recordings of these sonatas, one cannot but appreciate his nuanced approach to the works. He's also worked as an accompanist with Mark Padmore in recordings of the three great Schubert song cycles, showing that he can be in the background when necessary; perhaps pianists who accompany singers in Schubert understand the solo piano works more. After all, all of Schubert’s music is song-based.

In addition to this release, there are two other sets available from Harmonia Mundi. The first contains the sonatas D. 840, 859 and 894, along with the Op. 90 Impromptus and the Drei Klavierstücke. The second set contains the Wanderer Fantasy, the Op. 142 Impromptus, sonata D. 845, and the Six Moments Musicaux. It's unfortunate that the Impromptus aren't grouped in the same set, as is often the case, but if you like Lewis' playing, you'll want to get all three sets. I haven't read that Lewis is planning to record any of the other Schubert sonatas, so this may be the final set in his series. There's a total of just under 7 hours of music, and if you like Schubert, I'd strongly recommend it.
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on 17 June 2014
Inspired playing. Like being at a wonderful concert. On of those discus I will return to for sure. Schubert should have written more!
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on 7 May 2014
This is exceptional music making but beware this is not all a new release.
According to the recording dates the first disk containing D784 and D958 is new (2013) but the second disk containing the other two sonatas is a reissue of the 2002 recording itself re-issued in 2012.
All that has been written about that earlier recording remains true but this is not a new recording resulting from Lewis' recent re-exploration of this music. The Gramophone review on the back cover gives the game away (Oct 2012) and the small print confirms it
If you don't have that earlier disk get this - it is exceptional. If you do, just be aware of the duplication.
I can't see this mentioned anywhere even on the HM site so no shame on Amazon.
5 star for the performance and recording but a star deducted for the disappointment - I didn't have the earlier disk so it was easy for me.
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on 14 June 2015
Brilliant.What a wonderfully compelling and moving pianist. It is a privilege to be able to hear him play.
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