About Paul Lewis: Schubert Piano Sonatas 4

Piano Sonata No 19 in C minor, D958

Piano Sonata No 20 in A major, D959

Piano Sonata No 21 in B flat major, D960

The last months of Schubert’s life saw his creativity flourish through an unstoppable flow of musical masterpieces including the famous string quintet and song cycle Schwanengesang (Swan Song). As his health declined further, he wrote three last piano sonatas, together, in the summer and autumn of 1828 just weeks before his death. Full of emotional intensity, there’s drama, passion, anger, humanity, beauty and melancholy throughout these works, along with signposts to his admiration for Beethoven (Schubert had been a pall-bearer at Beethoven’s funeral the previous year).

With his first Schubert recordings in the early 2000s, Paul Lewis anchored a reputation as a new authority in the composer’s piano music with Gramophone magazine describing him as “arguably the finest Schubert interpreter of his generation”. Performing and recording the piano sonatas has been a constant throughout Lewis’s career, much as the sonatas formed a thread throughout Schubert’s own life, each one transparent in its emotions.

In this final recital of the series, we have a chance to reflect on what led the composer Franz Liszt to declare Schubert “the most poetic musician who ever lived”.

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