Paul Lewis

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Paul Lewis

Postby pianolady » Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:45 am

I saw Paul Lewis play a concert in Chicago today. First, I have to admit that I had not heard of him before. He came with the package plan I purchased for a series of concerts this season. Now that I have read his bio in the program notes, I know that he is very accomplished and has won several awards. And rightly so! He is very good! I don’t know how old he is but he looks pretty young. He also dressed quite casually: regular slacks – either black, dark gray, or navy blue, and a light gray shirt buttoned up to the neck but not tucked into his pants.

His program was as follows:

Mozart – Fantasy in C minor, K.477
Ligeti – Musica ricercata
Mozart Rondo in A minor, K. 511
Schubert Piano Sonata in G Major, D.894

The Mozart – Fantasy was very good. I didn’t hear a single mistake. Come to think of it, I didn’t hear any mistakes the whole concert! Wow! Anyway, this Fantasy is something I’ve dabbled with but not seriously. He plays in a very serious manner and has fairly flamboyant mannerisms – meaning he lifts his hands off the keys pretty high at times and jerky-like. But it works for him!

The Ligeti – I don’t know much about this composer and have never ever heard any of his music. I was prepared to not like it because I expected it to be too ‘weird’ for my tastes. Well, much to my surprise, this set of 11 miniatures held my interest almost the entire time. I only spaced out one time toward the end. Each piece was so unusual and different from one another. And also short. I think that’s the key! And the way he performed them with his hands and arms moving up and down so much, and even glancing at the audience a few times and smirking when the time came to play a lone note seemingly out of the blue – well it was very entertaining. But what really amazed me was at the end of the last one. I wasn’t sure by then which piece he was on and the audience was too afraid to clap anywhere because I think everybody wasn’t sure which number he was playing. Well, he was actually playing the last of the set, which is quiet and subdued and ends on him just sitting on something like the lowest A on the keyboard and I can’t remember what on the high end, and the audience is quiet as a mouse wondering if it’s time to clap or not. He paused on those two long notes and then went directly into the Mozart Rondo. It was so neat. Like the ‘old’ meets the ‘new’ or vice versa. I thought it worked very well.

After intermission came the Schubert Sonata. Wow, he played this so well! His tone is so soft, so smooth – really perfect. He played only one encore but I couldn’t hear what he said. Something in A minor, I think. It was a soft, slow piece. I sort of wished he would have played something livelier for an encore, but oh well…

Brian – I think I saw you on the other side of the lobby, but no time to chat this time. Can you think of anything else to say about this concert?
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

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Postby bclever » Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:10 pm

The only thing I can add is that he is currently a "student" of Alfred Brendel and that the
encore was a Schubert Fantasy in C minor (not sure about the C minor part).
I agree with you about the encore. It did not contrast enough with the G major sonata.
After the concert he talked a lot about that transition he made from the Ligeti to the
Mozart and how he is always on the lookout for neat segues like that while keeping in mind
the length of the program and the audiences' attention span. He was also asked about Brendel.
The obvious question to ask is "What is the single most important thing you've gotten from
your relationship with Brendel?" or some variation of that. He thought about it for a second
and you could tell he was awed just by thinking about it, but the single most important thing
was just to be around such an immense talent and source of knowledge and to see how such
a musician works. Oh yeah, the other interesting thing is that he flew all night to come play
here. He gave a concert in Tenerife Friday night and played here Sunday afternoon.
"I am glad that you wish to study the art of tones from its roots up, and it depends only on you to learn for yourself so much of it as has become known to me." -- J.S. Bach

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