Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Wigmore Hall, London

It may not be the composer’s nickname, but ‘Moonlight’ is apt for the first movement of Beethoven’s C-sharp minor Piano Sonata (Opus 27/2, quasi una fantasia), Paul Lewis capturing well the music’s placid nocturnal ruminations, then nicely springing its intermezzo-like successor, reserving speed and attack (not that either was gratuitous) for the tempestuous Finale, a silent-movie soundtrack as we may hear it today.

Schubert’s G-major Piano Sonata (D894) is a wonder. It too has its fantasy aspects, at least on its first publication in titular terms. Lewis, however, was keen to reveal how unified the piece is, the first-movement’s song, lilt and dynamic contrasts made as-one (although losing the exposition repeat was a shame, developmental fortissimos reached too soon). Lewis’s sensitive musicianship continued to shine in a slow movement of expressive loveliness, if interrupted by stormier feelings (a rather different emotional proposition to Beethoven’s weather report); then a Scherzo that was rugged and mellow by turns, with a Trio of music-box melody; and the Finale walked and sidestepped its way to a peaceful arrived-home conclusion in the most beguiling way.

Lewis stayed in G for an encore, and hit the spot with further Beethoven, his Bagatelle Opus 126/5, a blissful song without words.