Pianist Paul Lewis, a beloved PUC veteran, shares some of the music that has lifted his spirits during these extraordinary times. Paul is scheduled to return to the PUC stage next season on February 18, 2021.
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART: Piano Concerto in F Major, K. 459
Brendel/Marriner/Academy of St Martin in the Fields
This is one of the most ebullient and charming of Mozart’s concertos, perfect for lifting locked down spirits. The outer movements dance along with great energy in this wonderful performance, but the real heart of the work is it’s beautiful, lyrical slow movement.
LEONARD BERNSTEIN: Chichester Psalms
Bernstein/Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
This is a nostalgic work for me, as I sang in the choir as part of a performance at school when I was 15! Chichester Psalms shows Bernstein the composer at his best. Exciting, colourful, lyrical, dynamic—and clearly having great fun with the enormous forces at his disposal.
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN: 12 Études, Op. 10
Maurizio Pollini (1956)
A friend recently brought this rare recording to my attention. Pollini famously recorded the Chopin Etudes in 1972 for Deutsche Grammophon—a recording legendary for its intensity and technical mastery. This rough recording of a live performance from 1956* when Pollini was 14—yes, 14!—is utterly remarkable for its explosive energy and spontaneity. A staggering performance.
*Please note that the 1956 recording is not currently available on Spotify, but you can listen to it on YouTube here. The Spotify playlist includes the first etude recorded just four years later, after Pollini had won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, followed by the complete etudes recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in 1972.
GUSTAV MAHLER: Symphony No. 3, 6th movement
Haitink/Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
It is all but impossible to put into words the expressive magnitude of the final Adagio of Mahler’s 3rd Symphony. An awe inspiring journey of heart wrenching introspection, human fragility, and ultimately, an overwhelming expression of love. For me it’s one of the two greatest Adagios in all music, alongside the slow movement of Beethoven’s "Hammerklavier" Sonata.
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