Schubert: Piano Sonatas D840, 850 and 894; Impromptus D899; Klavierstücke D946

Paul Lewis
(Harmonia Mundi, two CDs)

Seven years have passed since Paul Lewis's last solo Schubert recording, and this latest collection coincides with his continuing series of Schubert recitals. It groups together the three sonatas of 1825 and 1826 – the earliest of them, in C major D840 just a two-movement torso, the others, in D D850 and G D894, perhaps the greatest of all the Schubert sonatas before the final trilogy. As Lewis's legions of admirers would expect, they are all superbly well played, with the same clarity and careful attention to every detail that is also lavished on the Four Impromptus of D899 and the three very late piano pieces D946. Unlike some of Lewis's more recent Beethoven performances, there's nothing over emphatic here; he nudges the first movement of the G major Sonata into motion with great tact, neither making it seem rushed nor lapsing into Richter-style immobility, just as he plays down the assertiveness of the first movement of the C major, never allowing his tone to acquire a steely edge. It's a fine, thoughtful set.

Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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