‘You feel that you’ve climbed the mountain’: Paul Lewis to play Beethoven’s piano concertos at Tanglewood

“It’s a real journey in by itself,” he mentioned by telephone from Oslo, in which he lives with his spouse and children. “Each concerto is so various in character, and each a single really suggests a little something exceptional that the many others don’t.” Even even though the final concerto (the “Emperor”) delivers a listener only up to Beethoven’s “middle” interval, “there’s anything about that piece that feels like a real end result. You truly feel like you have arrive to the stop of something — that you’ve climbed the mountain.”

One more boon from programming the concertos as a set is the probability to gauge how their distinct figures perform off just one another in unforeseen ways. Lewis cited the affinity concerning the 1st Concerto, whose sluggish motion he named “almost a double concerto for piano and [solo] clarinet,” and the chamber music-like Fourth Concerto (each on Saturday). Or acquire the sturdy contrast amongst the operates on Friday’s application — the Second, with crystal clear roots in the classical custom of Mozart and Haydn, playing off in opposition to the 3rd, whose extraordinary intensity details forward towards the heroic character of center-period of time Beethoven.

Lewis was a student of Alfred Brendel, who, in addition to being a renowned pianist, was also a famously exacting instructor. Lewis has clear recollections of taking part in the opening of the Fourth Concerto, a phrase consisting of just five bars of audio, for his teacher. “And [Brendel] just turned all over and said, ‘Yeah, I consider we can expend some several hours on that,’” he recalled.

“He would usually perform in terms of color exactly where these pieces had been worried,” Lewis said about Brendel’s strategy. “The piano was never just a piano for him. It is an orchestra, it is a human voice, it is a chamber group, it is a single wind instrument. It is often a whole bunch of options. He was rather particular about what every of the items needs in those phrases. And that variety of improvements the way you consider of them.”

Concertos, of class, are collaborative performs, and this weekend’s performances bring Lewis back into partnership with a musician with whom he’s labored usually. “It’s generally a satisfaction, and it is often spontaneous,” he claimed of partnering with Nelsons. “I believe in him 100 per cent as a musician, so I know that what he does is heading to be an inspiration, and that’s anything that I can bounce off of. When there is that have confidence in, it definitely operates.”

When the pandemic upended his accomplishing job, Lewis had a little something of an epiphany. For the first time in two many years as a skilled musician, he could see that lifestyle from the outside: the grind of infinite touring, under no circumstances slowing down the tempo. “You want to hold going and likely, and you panic something,” he stated of that brain-established. “And the pandemic type of taught me that basically, I really don’t will need to experience this panic. This is genuinely very good — staying at household, being a father, currently being a partner. Staying a person. There can be more stability in lifestyle.”

Conversely, he was reminded with new power just how powerful, and how intensely social, the act of stay new music making is. He understood this just after streaming performances from vacant concert halls, which he named “the most miserable detail I’ve ever done in my lifetime.”

Of returning to live concertizing, “I never want to say that I ever took it for granted,” he said. “I really do not believe I did. But I imagine individuals times are just extra critical than at any time, having had the experience of [them] becoming taken away from all of us. There’s that extra resonance to them now.

“In a planet where by matters do turn out to be additional and far more distant,” he included, “let’s not drop this.”


At Tanglewood, Lenox, July 29-31. Tickets $21 and up. 888-266-1200, www.bso.org

David Weininger can be reached at globeclassicalnotes@gmail.com. Comply with him on Twitter @davidgweininger.