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Home News Paul Lewis talks about Haydn’s piano sonatas

Paul Lewis talks about Haydn’s piano sonatas

Home News Paul Lewis talks about Haydn’s piano sonatas
Paul Lewis performs at Rosehill Paul Lewis performs at Rosehill Picture by Tom Kay
Paul Lewis talks about Haydn’s piano sonatas

I've wanted to explore the piano sonatas of Haydn in detail for some time. It's unfortunate that his works don't get played as often as they deserve, as they contain some of the most startlingly original and irresistibly absurd piano writing in the entire repertoire. There aren't many composers whose music can raise a laugh from an audience, but Haydn certainly tops that short list. His outrageous ability to surprise, shock, and poke fun at the listener still feels remarkably fresh in an age when ever-increasing extremes have become the norm.

Brahms is a composer I've come to love more recently. Few composers manage to fuse wild passion and high drama with such supreme perfection of the craft of composition - a perfection that, for me, felt untouchable for many years. Brahms strikes me as an overwhelmingly contradictory composer whose madness has an inner logic, and in whose hands the rawest of emotion can sound simultaneously unrestrained and refined.

I realised that I couldn't resist dedicating a few years to exploring Haydn and Brahms but felt that, in practice, the programmes would need another element to bring these two hugely contrasting composers together. That element wasn't too difficult to find. Many of the miniatures in Beethoven's three sets of Bagatelles have much in common with the quirkish humour of Haydn, while some others look forward unmistakably to the heartfelt romanticism of Brahms. The Diabelli Variations - arguably Beethoven's greatest piano work - goes even further in both directions and, in the context of this series, serves as a summing up of the whole. I can think of no piano work more wide-ranging in character than Beethoven's final major work for the instrument. It encompasses everything from the blustering to the introspective, the farcical to the deeply serious, the tender-hearted to the downright bloody-minded - and a final variation which, miraculously, manages to rise above it all while looking in all possible directions at once.
Paul Lewis

There is in Lewis's playing a strong physicality, a firm connection between his deep thinking about the music and his articulation of it. He knows and can define its character, and can show how its rhythmic, harmonic and melodic components coalesce. This was playing of intellectual rigour and imaginative vigour. Geoffrey Norris, The Daily Telegraph

The first of these four concerts at Rosehill will be on Sunday 8 October at 3pm, and will comprise a programme including Haydn’s Sonatas in C major and G major, Beethoven’s Six Bagatelles (opus 126), and Brahms’ Six Pieces for Piano (opus 118). This will be one of just a handful of dates that Paul Lewis is performing in the UK in 2017 as part of a European and American tour so a great opportunity for us at Rosehill.

Future dates for this series of concerts are scheduled for 21 March and in October 2018 and June 2019 (dates to follow).

Tickets for the concerts on 8 October (£12 for under 26s) and are available here or by calling the Box Office on 01946 692422.


Programme 1 – 8 October 2017

Haydn Sonata in C major Hob XVI: 50

Beethoven 6 Bagatelles op.126


Brahms 6 pieces op.118

Haydn Sonata in G major Hob XVI: 40


Programme 2 – 21 March 2018

Beethoven 11 Bagatelles op.119

Haydn Sonata in E flat Hob XVI: 49


Haydn Sonata in B minor Hob XVI: 32

Brahms 4 pieces op.119


Programme 3 - October 2018

Brahms 7 Fantasies op.116

Haydn Sonata in C minor Hob XVI: 20


Beethoven 7 Bagatelles op.33

Haydn Sonata in E flat Hob XVI: 52


Programme 4 – June 2019

Haydn Sonata in E minor Hob XVI: 34

Brahms 3 Intermezzi op.117


Beethoven Diabelli Variations op.120

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