Piers Lane is a sensational performer! He has a deep understanding and knowledge of music, creates a warm sound, displays his emotional interpretation, touches the audience's heart, and builds great rapport with his listeners. What a delight it was to have him perform at Breinton. This evening was a wonderful opening to our 2011 – 2012 season.
The first half was Schubert Sonata in A major D959. This is my favourite of Schubert's Sonatas and I think it is so utterly beautiful. The first movement opened with dynamic chords, followed by arpeggios in triplets. I just loved this opening. Piers was certainly a dynamic performer, but he knows the appropriate limit, so it never became fierce and metallic banging. The triplets were played so subtly and with great contrast to the chords. The most tragically tormented movement of all, the second, begins with a rocking accompaniment and a sad yet truly beautiful melody. It was so emotional, full of sighing and depressing factors. Then the climax of fortissimo chords; the transition was shattering. The third movement, Scherzo, was sharp, light, fast moving and thoroughly enjoyable. The finale was a lyrical rondo. Piers played this movement differently from any of the performers I have heard before. Not too lively and brightly, but it seemed to me that he was taking time to enjoy the songful and melancholy melody. Piers was in his own private world when he performed – before starting the programme he said, "This Sonata is beautiful but it is rather long. So see you in 40 minutes", then boom, he was off to his world.
Piers gave a brief explanation about this Sonata prior to the performance. He said that Schubert was 31 years old when he composed it and two months later he was dead. Since the age of 26 he knew he was dying but his illness did not diminish his composing and his strength of inspiration. What a tragedy that the great Schubert died so young; I wonder if he would have kept producing masterpieces had he lived longer. By the way it was Piers' first public performance of the Sonata, so we were very privileged!
The second half was a pure joy and delight. A parade of Chopin nocturnes and waltzes, which everyone would die for. To this day, Chopin is one of the most beloved composers who produced many piano works with vocal, poetic and lyrical melodies. In fact he never composed a work that did not involve the piano. Originally, Piers was going to play the complete set of Chopin waltzes, but he changed his programme to be four nocturnes, followed by six waltzes and another nocturne to end the evening. He started nocturnes in pairs – Op. 9 No. 1 and No. 2, and Op. 27 No. 1 and No. 2. The second Nocturne, which is in E flat major, is very well-known. Piers explained that as Chopin performed and taught pupils he kept changing his mind and adding bits here and there. Tonight's version was one of those – so it was different from the E flat major nocturne we would normally hear. It was amazingly fresh to my ears. What was also amazing was the left hand accompaniment; it was absolutely beautifully steady while the lyrical melody stood out. Op. 27 No.1 was in C sharp minor; Piers said that this piece showed that nocturnes were not only all about dreams, but could be sad and sentimental. He also said that Chopin may have been feeling home sick when he composed it, as the middle section had melodies that remind us of Polish dances. This was very informative information prior to listening to the actual piece.
The Chopin waltzes Piers played were: E major, Op. PostH, E minor, Op. PostH, A minor, Op. 34 No. 2, A flat major, Op. 42, C sharp minor, Op. 64 No.2, and Waltz in A minor, Op. PostH. With E major Op. PostH, Piers displayed some brilliant trills and I have never heard a more emotional Waltz in A minor (Op. 34 No.2). If you only take a look at the score, it is not particularly difficult. But I could never play like that – there was something so emotional and moving. The same goes with C sharp minor. I used to play this piece (not very well), perhaps Piers could give me a lesson or two? Waltz in A flat major Op. 42 is my all time favourite, so I was very lucky to hear that live in front of my eyes. Piers concluded the evening with Nocturne in C sharp minor. I am sure the audience wanted the performance to go on and on....
Then, we had a little surprise at the end – Piers played Dudley Moore's Beethoven Sonata Parody as an encore. It was hilarious. He knew how to engage us in serious music but he certainly knew how to make us laugh too!
Australian pianist Piers Lane has a flourishing international career, which has taken him to more than 40 countries. Highlights of past years have included a sold-out performance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, concerto performances at Avery Fisher Hall, a three-recital series entitled Metamorphoses and other performances for the Pianoforte series at Wigmore Hall and 5 concerts for the opening of the Recital Centre in Melbourne.
"â€¦No praise could be high enough for Piers Lane whose playing throughout is of a superb musical intelligence, sensitivity, and scintillating brillianceâ€¦" Bryce Morrison, Gramophone
Read Piers' full biography.