Piers Lane Goes to Town
See end of review for full track list
Piers Lane (piano)
rec. 6-8 June 2012, Potton Hall, Suffolk, England
HYPERION CDA 67967 [76:09]
Piers Lane gives the impression, here, of finally getting to record all the stuff he’s secretly wanted to do but never had the chance. This is technically a collection of encores, but it’s also a series of treats of very different kinds. There’s a stark toccata by his father Alan, Bach’s beloved ‘Jesu, joy of man’s desiring’, a splash of jazz and rumba, a Beethoven parody, and the pianist’s own booklet essay explaining why he loves it all.
The closest ancestor would be something like Stephen Hough’s Piano Album. Although some works are serious, some are dark, and some are very silly, they hang together by dint of the pianist’s personality.
From the silly end comes Dudley Moore’s mockery of Beethoven, complete with about a zillion fake endings that Lane really sells hard. There’s also “Dizzy Fingers” by Zez Confrey, author of other jazz age tunes like “Kitten on the Keys”. Antony Hopkins, who is not the actor, contributes an entertaining series of variations on a famous theme. If the variations aren’t very interesting, musically, they’re at least fun parodies of composers like Mozart, Chopin and Brahms. I won’t tell you the theme. If you can’t figure it out there’s no helping you.
Another marvel is Mark Saya’s “Barcarolles”, which combines the barcarolles of Chopin and Offenbach. If you like this inspired mash-up, check out Marc-André Hamelin’s combination of three Chopin études into one piece. The CD’s title comes from “Bach goes to town”, a prelude and fugue in swing style by Alec Templeton. There’s something about swing pianists who were born blind. Besides Templeton, I wonder if Piers Lane is a fan of Art Tatum …
There are moments of slightly less levity, which helps lend variety to the recital. Alan Lane’s son is a persuasive advocate of his rather stoic, chromatic Toccata, but also of Dame Myra Hess’s gorgeous rendering of the famed J.S. Bach tune. Rachmaninov and Poulenc show up, balancing out a John Ireland work (“Ballerina”) I found rather dusty and disappointing. Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s “Arabesque” is a perfumed love-letter straight from the end of the romantic era. It all ends with a stirring rendition of Percy Grainger’s rendering of “Danny Boy”, preferable to Hamelin’s on the same record label, for having just that much more depth of feeling.
Confirming the very personal feel of this disc, Piers Lane writes his own notes on the music. Like the disc itself, the notes are amiable, approachable, witty and a pleasure to loaf around with. The sound quality is up to Hyperion’s standards. As long as you don’t expect much profundity, you’ll have a lot of fun with this.
Katharine PARKER (1886-1971) Down Longford Way [2:34]
Alan LANE (1932-2002) Toccata, from Suite [4:31]
Anthony DOHENY (b.1938) Toccata for Piers Lane [1:53]
John IRELAND (1879-1962) Ballerina [4:39]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) arr. Dame Myra HESS (1890-1965) Jesu, joy of man’s desiring [4:03]
Billy MAYERL (1902-1959) Marigold [2:58]
Léo DELIBES (1836-1891) arr. Erno DOHNÁNYI (1877-1960) Naila Waltz [7:29]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Daisies, Op 38 No 3 [2:32]
Zez CONFREY (1895-1971) Dizzy Fingers [1:57]
Mark SAYA (b.1954) Barcarolles, operatic paraphrase after Offenbach and Chopin [5:42]
Manning SHERWIN (1902-1974) arr. Regis DANILLON (b.1949) A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square [3:33]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963) Nocturne No 4 in C minor [1:36]
Alec TEMPLETON (1910-1963) Bach goes to town [3:05]
Arthur BENJAMIN (1893-1960) Jamaican Rumba [1:01]
Robert KEANE (b.1948) The Tiger Tango, from Save the Animals Suite [3:20]
Antony HOPKINS (1921) Variations on a well-known theme [14:13]
Sigfrid KARG-ELERT (1877-1933) Arabesque No 1 in G flat, Op 5 [2:57]
Dudley MOORE (1935-2002) Beethoven Parody, “And the same to you” [4:28]
Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961) Irish tune from County Derry [3:38]
You’ll have a lot of fun with this collection of encores and personal choices.
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