Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Paul Lewis | Symphony Center | Classical | Chicago Reader
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Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Paul Lewis Critic's Choice Recommended The List (Music) Soundboard

When: Thu., Nov. 19, 8 p.m., Fri., Nov. 20, 8 p.m., Sat., Nov. 21, 8 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 22, 3 p.m. 2009
Price: $22-$199
Between 2005 and 2007 young British pianist Paul Lewis performed all 32 of Beethoven's piano sonatas on tour in Europe and the U.S., meanwhile recording them in sets; Harmonia Mundi released them in four volumes, and the last volume won Gramophone's 2008 Record of the Year. It's a monumental undertaking for any pianist, and Lewis, born in Liverpool in 1972, didn't even start taking piano lessons until age 12, after two uneventful years on cello; he entered Chetham's School of Music in Manchester at 14 and went on to London's Guildhall School, where a master class with Alfred Brendel led to regular coaching in his early 20s. Last November Lewis gave a recital in Orchestra Hall that included a sublime rendition of Schubert's Piano Sonata No. 18, in which he revealed an approach similar to the one he brings to Beethoven—he aims to get out of the composer's way, staying as transparent as possible. At times the strictness of his tempos leaves me wishing for a little breathing room, but what he does is impressive—he's a thoughtful player with abundant technique that includes remarkably well-balanced chords and an ability to convey an exceptional range of moods and timbres. He makes his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performing Mozart's exquisite Piano Concerto No. 12; the program also includes Bartok's folk-inspired Divertimento for String Orchestra and Schumann's Symphony No. 2. Christoph von Dohnanyi conducts. —Barbara Yaross



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