MELBOURNE RECITAL CENTRE REVIEW: Piers Lane

Piers Lane, returning home for a series of concerts, was an excellent choice to present the first piano recital in the Melbourne Recital Centre's Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, and to inaugurate a new Steinway Concert Grand (the Brahms).
MELBOURNE RECITAL CENTRE REVIEW: Piers Lane
Piers Lane, returning home for a series of concerts, was an excellent choice to present the first piano recital in the Melbourne Recital Centre's Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, and to inaugurate a new Steinway Concert Grand (the Brahms). The pianist had an engaging manner – and that’s even before his hands hit the keys. Lane said Beethoven’s Andante favori in F, Wo057 started as part of the Waldstein sonata, was dropped from that work, then gained new independent status thanks to frequent performances by the composer. All this made the audience predisposed to enjoy it. And we did. In allowing the melody to sing through the rich harmonic texture, Lane both revealed the quality of the work – and a characteristic of his own playing that unified the opening subject to a lighter waltz-like passage and the demanding octaves as the work drew to its conclusion. Similarly, the Brahms Piano Sonata No.3 in F minor was introduced with a romantic tale, involving youthful good looks, a life-long romance with the wife of a fellow composer, and the description of the work as “a young man’s sonata”. With the greatest respect, l felt that Lane appeared to “channel” Brahms – both looking the part and, far more importantly, exploiting the piano’s lovely resonance in a work of dramatic contrasts. But it was in the final work, Chopin’s 24 Preludes Op.28, that Lane’s virtuosity – and signature style of making the melody sing – was heard to greatest advantage. Although most listeners would be familiar with the better-known preludes – such as the Raindrop (No.15) and the dramatic No.20 Largo in C minor – it is rare that the complete work is heard in performance. During the interval the piano was replaced with the “Messaien” Steinway, with Lane’s performance simply a tour de force. We heard the surprising dynamic range of the preludes, moods that were in turn light-hearted, sombre, “molto agitato” and, in a finish that recalled Beethoven, “allegro appassionato”. Next Friday Lane will be back in the UK with a full schedule of concerts ahead of him. We were fortunate that he took the long trip home to grace the stage of the new Melbourne Recital Centre, albeit briefly. Piers Lane Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre Thursday 8 March

Suzanne Yanko

Wednesday 11 March, 2009

About the author

Suzanne Yanko is the editor of www.classicmelbourne.com.au. She has worked as a reviewer, writer, broadcaster and editor for Fairfax Digital, the Herald-Sun, the South China Morning Post, Radio 4 Hong Kong, HMV VOICE - and, for six years, ArtsHub.   Email: syanko@artshub.com.au