The 25 Essential Beethoven Recordings: Paul Lewis Plays the 'Waldstein' Sonata

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Free Download: Paul Lewis performs the "Waldstein" Sonata, Second Movement *

When we recently featured Paul Lewis's new album of Schubert works as an Album of the Week, it was a chance to get better acquainted with this fine English pianist has recorded a broad swath of Classical and Romantic repertory.

Born in Liverpool, Lewis studied for a time with the great Austrian pianist Alfred Brendel. He clearly inherited his interests in Austro-Germanic repertoire as well as his thoughtful, decidedly un-flashy stage demeanor. Lewis spent about three years (2005-2007) recording the complete cycle of 32 Beethoven sonatas for Harmonia Mundi, during which time he also brought them on international tours. The individual CDs have been repackaged on a single box set (also via download) and earn a spot on our list of the 25 essential Beethoven recordings.

For the purposes of this survey, we're especially impressed with Lewis's interpretations of the middle-period works including the "Waldstein" Sonata. Throughout this recording one is impressed by the unfailing beauty of his playing, particularly in the lyrical passages. Yet he doesn't prettify the harsher aspects of the music, and allows the finale to explode in a hard-edged virtuoso energy.

The other sonatas in the set, including the popular favorite "Pathétique," all have moments of profound insight.

Tell us what you think of our choices and share your own favorites in the comments below.

Paul Lewis, piano
The Complete Beethoven Sonatas
Harmonia Mundi
Available at

* The free download is available on WQXR's Facebook Page. Not on Facebook, no problem. You can also receive it in our weekly email newsletter. Sign up here:


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Comments [1]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard wagner music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Beethoven's universal scope in symphonies, concertos, sonatas, string quartets, overtures, chamber music generally ,and song literature is so pervasive and his world consciousness and basic humanity construct an icon unparalled to and past his own era. At Juilliard, I studied his oeuvre and , in those days, all singers learned the concert rep of Beethoven , Schubert , Schumann, Wolf and Grieg, whether they would be opera singers or concert singers. So much of our treasured masterpiece, vocal and instrumental, are unknown quantities to most Americans. THANK YOU WQXR FOR CELEBRATING BEETHOVEN !!! Beethoven's symphonies are the ABCs of most essential single composers' oeuvre of the symphonic literature. Who ever having heard the Waldstein well performed can ever forget its beauty and nuanced scope of emotions. Wagner and his contemporaries and their successors all recognized the epic achievement of Beethoven. I am a romantischer Wagnerian heldentenor and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute at 418A Main Street, Boonton, NJ .I have sung four solo concerts in four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I sang the Gott ! welch dunkel hier ! aria of Fidelio. it can be heard from the live performance on my three websites. It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines.

Nov. 12 2012 08:36 AM

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About Beethoven Awareness Month

No composer impacted the course of Western music like Ludwig van Beethoven. The events of his life are the stuff of Romantic legend, his works permeate concert halls and he remains a cultural icon outside of classical music, turning up in movies, TV soundtracks, commercials and pop songs. Throughout November, WQXR celebrates Beethoven's work through concert broadcasts, multimedia projects, marathons and other features.