Paul Lewis

Music critics in Europe and N. America agree that Paul Lewis, is a master pianist of the first order. In a review of one of his concerts, Tim Page of the Washington Post says that he ‘seems incapable of playing anything in a bland or nerveless fashion. His sense of meter is infinitely elastic, and yet the pieces hold together organically. One almost had the sense that Lewis could have stopped in mid-passage, walked offstage for a minute or two, come back and resumed playing without ever losing the thread of the music entirely. He is the musician as master storyteller, and he keeps our eager attention.’

I have seen him in solo performance three times, the latest yesterday evening. His platform manner is without the flamboyance associated with some great performers. He seems unconscious of anything other than what he is doing, absorbed in the music, receiving applause as if it was a slightly embarrassing affair and incidental to the occasion, allowing a slight smile as he acknowledges it.

A dedicated musician, whose journey you feel privileged to share.

He was ‘shocked’ he said to win the classical category of the annual arts awards presented by the BBC TV programme ‘The South Bank Show’ in 2003, partly no doubt because he beat long established musicians such as Sir Colin Davies and the composer and conductor Oliver Knussen. The award was for a series of Schubert’s sonata performances at Wigmore Hall, London’s premier small concert venue. He said that he was ‘amazed’ to have the opportunity to do the concerts in the first place.

Since then he has performed all of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas and I am collecting the recordings of them; the last album is being issued in May. He is now in the process of recording all of the Schubert sonatas, two of which I already have on disc. We were at St Georges Hall, Bristol, yesterday to hear an eclectic programme of Mozart, Ligeti and Schubert, the same works which I see he was performing in Madrid a week ago.

Last night he played to a packed house with the flair and bravura that has made him a much sought of artist throughout the world, but with the deep seriousness that is so typical of him.

B.R.