Piers Lane/Christopher Wrench

(Queensland Conservatorium)


Piers Lane for Medici Concerts, Queensland Conservatorium Theatre

Christopher Wrench for 4MBS Festival of Classics, Basil Jones Orchestral Hall, Queensland Conservatorium

A book I had 15 years ago slipped through my fingers. I remember that it started with words attributed to the great cellist, Pablo Casals. I don’t remember their detail exactly, but I recall their essence.

Don’t teach that Paris is the capital of France; London, the capital of England: this is the stuff of differentiation and leads to wars. Teach instead that we are each unique and preciously part of a whole, too valuable to be wiped away.

These two recitals filled me with the same sense of precious wonder and though the myriad of notes flying from the fingers of each player slip past the ear, they have left a precious memory.

Both executants are graduates of our Queensland Conservatorium. Their programs were backward looking, imbued with a keen sense of times past, impeccably executed and engagingly introduced.

Organist Christopher Wrench filled his cup, and ours, with only Bach organ works. Pianist Piers Lane paid homage to Beethoven, through the master’s own music and reflections on it by Schubert, Schumann and Liszt.

Each man’s mastery of his instrument is an awe-filled given. What is precious is that both musicians reached out and filled my heart with reverence and love.

Maybe not just mine, for after both concerts the audience was slow to disperse, as if we didn’t want the moment to pass, and that by staying there together we could prolong its beauty.

At the same time their playing is packed with searing intellect, dissecting and polishing every nuance of every phrase.

This meld of head and heart is great art and for their art, both Lane (London-based) and Wrench (still in Brisbane but for how long?), have been accorded international acclaim.

Always impressive, Piers’ playing has rounded in tone over the years. In this concert, which he will also play at Wigmore Hall next Valentine’s Day, his love and fascination for every note showed on his face and in his sound. His presentation that night was the sort you lie back and luxuriate in.

Christopher’s was the last of three, all featuring the music of Bach, presented as part of the 4MBS Festival of Classics. The nature of the music, filled with Bach’s focus on the Almighty, was an intense affair, marked with Wrench’s marvellous musicianship, an abiding sense of architecture and, it seems paradoxical to say amidst such rigour, an expressive freedom of phrasing.

Thank you both for your humanity and for filling my soul with reverence. The memory of your performances will not slip away; their essence is too valuable.

Performances seen: 29th May 2005, 18th June, 2005

— John Colwill
(Performance seen: Sat 28th May 2005)