THE fine Steinway piano at St Paul’s can occasionally seem a little overpowering, especially for the music of composers such as Mozart.
But it came fully into its own last night for an all-Chopin programme performed by Piers Lane.
Chopin himself, who died in 1849, might not have had access to an instrument with quite so much power, but he would surely have delighted in the expressive range available to the soloist, who was able to switch instantly between romantic rage and sweet stillness.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the very best known piece, the March Funebre from Chopin’s Sonata Opus 35 in B flat minor.
The doleful chords of the main theme are instantly familiar, but less so the gentle second subject, beautifully performed last night, which seems to offer a note of consolation in the face of death.
With the exception of a Barcarolle in F sharp major, all of the pieces in the programme where in minor keys – with many modulations of course.
This seemed to confirm our view of Chopin as a torch bearer for the romantic movement, at its most torrid, but Piers Lane, an exceptionally resourceful pianist, demonstrated the subtle range of moods that exist in Chopin’s compositions, including his G minor Ballade, two of his Nocturnes, and the Sonata Opus 58 in B minor, which concluded the concert.
There was some powerful pounding of the keys at appropriate moments, but Lane was by no means over-demonstrative, displaying a classically disciplined technique that served the music well.