MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - British pianist Paul Lewis will again visit the Middlebury College Center for the Arts as he continues his ongoing endeavor to perform the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas at the college. This next recital begins at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the Concert Hall at the Center for the Arts and will feature Sonatas no. 8 in C Minor (Pathetique), no. 12 in A-flat Major, no. 27 in E Minor, and no. 28 in A Major. This is the third of eight concerts Lewis plans for Middlebury. An additional concert is scheduled this season for May 12.
Lewis, one of the most sought-after classical artists of his generation, is presently immersed in the Beethoven project. Through 2007, the Beethoven sonatas will be the focus of his concerts scheduled for venues throughout the United Kingdom, Australia and Europe. Middlebury is his main recital stop in the United States this season with additional North American concerts in San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia. Lewis has also recorded the complete Beethoven cycle for the classical music label Harmonia Mundi, released Nov. 8, 2005.
The intense focus is not new to Lewis, who produced a similar effort several years ago with the Schubert piano sonata series. In 2003 his Schubert work won him both the South Bank Show Classical Music Award and the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award. His Schubert sonata recordings on the Harmonia Mundi label received great acclaim with the first release winning the prestigious Diapason d’Or Choc de L’Année 2002 award in France.
Lewis attended the Chetham School of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with Ryszard Bakst and Joan Havill. He later received regular coaching from Alfred Brendel. By 1999, Lewis was featured in BBC’s inaugural “New Generation Artists” program. From 2000-2002, he was a professor of piano at London’s Royal Academy of Music. In 2001-2002, he and the Leopold String Trio were selected by Wigmore Hall for the prestigious European Concert Halls Organization’s “Rising Stars” program, an honor that led to more debut recitals in New York, Vienna, Amsterdam and Brussels.
Lewis has appeared with a host of classical music artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Ernst Kovacic, Katherine Gowers and Adrian Brendel. He has performed concertos with many leading orchestras and with conductors such as Gerard Schwarz, Vassily Sinaisky and Mark Elder.
A reviewer for The Daily Telegraph in London said, “There is in Lewis’ playing a strong physicality, a firm connection between his deep thinking about the music and his articulation of it. … This was playing of intellectual rigor and imaginative vigor.”
Many of Lewis’ performances are close to home in the U.K. at London’s Wigmore Hall. It was at a concert there several years ago that Middlebury College Performing Arts Series Director Paul Nelson and his wife first heard Lewis play. Nelson was inspired and the current Beethoven recital series resulted. “The prospect of hearing him play all of Beethoven’s sonatas at Middlebury was irresistible,” Nelson said.
Lewis’ recitals are sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series. Reserved seating tickets for the performance are $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors. A pre-performance dinner begins at 6 p.m. at Rehearsals Cafe in the Center for the Arts. Reservations are required. For tickets or dinner reservations, call the Middlebury College Box Office at 802-443-6433. Online tickets and information are available at www.middlebury.edu/arts