You’ve just recorded Beethoven’s Bagatelles, but what has been your personal journey with regard to these pieces?

I played a few of them here and there, but I didn’t play the sets complete until a few years ago when I started doing this Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms series. I thought the Bagatelleswould fit in quite well. I knew them, and I’d learned them, but playing them was a different experience altogether. You have to take a very different approach than you do towards a sonata with a big structure. With the Bagatelles, it’s all about the detail and all about characterising the detail as vividly as you can. That’s how they really catch fire and come to life.

Paul Lewis Paul Lewis. Photo © Jack Liebeck

The Bagatellesalways seem to play second fiddle to the sonatas, but is that a fair assessment?

Well, the sonata cycle is what it is – one of the peaks of the piano repertoire – and it casts its shadow over just about everything. But in a way it’s not fair because although the Bagatellesare not big structures, there’s such originality and such creativity in all of them,...

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