English pianist Paul Lewis is renowned for his performances of central European classical repertoire, in particular the piano sonatas of Beethoven and Schubert. On this recording, Lewis stays in the early 19th century but sharpens his focus to zoom in on two sonatas written within approximately a year of one another by Carl Maria von Weber and Franz Schubert.

Weber’s four-movement Piano Sonata No 2 was composed in 1816 and is an elegantly structured, lyrical and at times tempestuous work that seems not to have troubled the repertoire choices of many top-tier pianists in recent memory (Garrick Ohlsson, a notable exception). Lewis’s fresh, thoughtful recording is welcome, especially contextualised with Schubert’s B Major Piano Sonata No 9 from the following year, 1817, during which he was finding his compositional voice for piano.

Both four-movement works share stylistic similarities, but while Weber’s remains rooted in classical forms, Schubert’s hurtles unstoppably forward into the territory inhabited by his hero Beethoven, who in 1817 was at work on the monumental Hammerklavier. Lewis’s technical depth ensures assured performances and the recording is close (the occasional breath is audible), warm and sonorous, with Lewis’s tone on the bright side. Attention to emotional nuance is genuine and satisfying, drawing out the profound lyricism in two works rarely presented in such a sympathetic manner.

Composer: Weber, Schubert
Composition: Piano sonatas
Performer: Paul Lewis p
Catalogue Number: HARMONIA MUNDI HMM902324

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