McEwing reviews Lane

August 21, 2012 by Fraser Beath McEwing
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The third concert in the International Pianists in Recital series (Angel Place Recital Hall) presented a noteworthy, if unsettling program by ex-pat Australian pianist, Piers Lane…writes Fraser Beath McEwing.


Piers Lane

Or I think it was Piers Lane, because the photo of him in the program was that of a clean cut business executive, bordering on film stardom, whereas the man who walked on to the stage had shaggy gladiator locks, the longest coat tails I’ve ever seen and a screaming pair of black and white polka dot socks – visible as soon as he sat down.

But hey, we were here for a piano recital, so I accepted this version of Piers and we got on with it.

His programme was generous in time and varied in content. Before each group of pieces he took to the microphone and chatted wittily to the audience about what was coming up. He also announced a change in the order of the works – which was more logical than what was printed in the program.

Lane began with five pieces by Debussy, and although he brought them off effectively, and established his powerful technique, he also announced his style of rushing at fast passages with a battering ram. The Debussy pieces comprised two Arabesques, Jardins souns la pluie, Reflets dan l’eau and L’lse joyeuse. They could soak up Lane’s impetuosity to some advantage but the same didn’t hold for later in the program.

The Debussy was followed by eight Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs by Bela Bartok. These were mostly short, jagged pieces that demanded an acquired taste. Lane noted this during his announcement when he said, “for those who don’t like it, it will be over in ten minutes.” I was one of those. I couldn’t help thinking how easy it would be a parody these improvisations, especially by somebody who didn’t play the piano.

Still in Hungary, we then plunged into Liszt’s three imaginative and demanding pieces that make up Venezia e Napoli S162. Again there was the rush. I felt tension for Lane, as though he was playing right on his limit, which resulted in notes in some difficult passages not being played at all as he flew past on a downhill toboggan. But every now and then he would pull over and bring forth some evocative poetry.

After interval we were treated to the complete Chopin waltzes. There were 17 of them, although Lane told us that Chopin had actually written 36, of which many had been lost. So ‘complete’ was a relative term.

To play the Chopin waltzes to an audience of piano-heads takes some courage. Most of them know most of them, so the pianist is very exposed.

Lane played them in groups of four, interspersed with some chat.

Lane’s peculiar style came clearly to the surface in these waltzes. Most were unnecessarily fast, again resulting in slurs and missing notes. And again, there were the unexpected moments of pause and introspection typical of well-played Chopin.

I know this is a matter of personal taste, but I didn’t warm to Lane’s Chopin – with one notable exception. He played the finest C sharp minor (Op. 64 No. 2) I’ve heard live. For some reason he took

It at 400 metres pace instead of 100 metres and it worked beautifully.

The audience responded to the recital with enthusiasm and drew an encore out of Lane. He played another waltz, but this time by Dohnanyi. This was a rocket ride from the first note and Lane revelled in it – to thunderous applause.


One Response to “McEwing reviews Lane”
  1. Noj says:

    DEAR Resarf. I have just come across your website ( quite accidently ) and have been completely blown away by your incredible talents as both music critic (commentator) and author. Christine has a Wesley magazine from the days when her 2 girls attended the school, and inside there is a photo of you playing piano with the school jazz group. With the review of the book, there is a photo. I thought I was looking at Maurie. I wish you all the very best . Jon.

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