Q&A with Piers Lane

June 8, 2014

The London-based Australian pianist Piers Lane has a flourishing international career that has seen him perform the world over. In great demand as a collaborative artist, Piers has a longstanding partnership with violinist Tasmin Little, with whom he performs at Saffron Hall later this month. Currently on tour in Australia, we caught up with Piers to talk about performance, partnership and programming.

Welcome back Piers, we last saw you at Saffron Hall in January with Patricia Routledge before heading off to tour the show in Australia. How did it go?

We are just coming to the end of our 26-date Australian tour now. It has been a wonderful tour and so nice for me to be part of a little travelling troupe. The next two weeks, I shall be playing concertos with the Melbourne and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras and shall so miss travelling in company – back to my usual solo touring!

This time you will be joining us with Tasmin Little, who you regularly perform and record with. How did your artistic partnership come about?

We had each seen the other’s name for some time. It seemed like whichever music club I performed at, Tasmin was the previous or next performer in the series! The cellist Alexander Baillie and I were giving the Opening Concert of the New End Theatre in Hampstead, when it became a concert venue for a time, and at the end of the evening this charming and ebullient young lady came up to me and said ‘ Hello, I’m Tasmin Little and I’d love to play with you’. Why would I refuse? That was 28 years ago…

What is it about Tasmin that makes the partnership special?
We are great friends and have played together for so long, we often know what the other is thinking without needing to say. Tasmin is a special person – she is always thoughtful for other people, intelligent and funny and great to be around – and never in a bad mood!

Could you tell us a little more about the programme you will be performing together at Saffron Hall?
We are recording all the violin and piano works by Schubert this year, so he is cropping up a lot in 2014 programmes! Howard Ferguson’s sonata is underplayed – a wonderfully succinct, passionate, romantic mid-twentieth-century sonata. You might remember he was the Irish pianist/composer who worked tirelessly with Dame Myra Hess to organise all the wartime National Gallery concerts? Strauss’s huge sonata is a work we’ve played for many years and, indeed, recorded together. It is a rapturously emotional piece, the piano part orchestral in its range, the second movement a wonder of silken filigree.

Where will you be heading off to over the summer?
My summers are always music-related. I can’t remember when I last had a summer holiday! It’s prime time for festivals all over the world. This June, Tasmin and I have several concerts and a recording in the UK. Then I leave for Newport Music Festival, Rhode Island for a week of concerts; thence to Australia for my own Australian Festival of Chamber Music; then straight back to the States for the Bard Festival in upstate new York, a highly intelligent event concentrating on Schubert this year. Then I’m in London for two nights before flitting over to to join Tasmin for concerts in Zimbabwe. After a week back home in London, I’m off to Oz again to play the massive Busoni Piano Concerto with Gerard Schwartz and the Queensland Symphony, my first performances of de Falla’s ‘Nights in the Gardens of Spain’ with the Adelaide Symphony (can’t wait – that piece is sumptuous!) and Liszt’s first concerto in Perth, along with various solo recitals. That takes me through till mid-October – so I guess Summer will be well and truly over…

If we gave you free rein to programme a concert at Saffron Hall, who would be your dream artists to work with and programme to perform? 
If you look at my festival website you can see hundreds of concerts and artists I have programmed since 2007. You’ll discover I have very eclectic tastes! I have been fortunate to perform with many dream artists over the years, including Tasmin and Patricia of course. At the moment, my favourite composers to perform solo are Schubert and Chopin. If I had to choose one favourite chamber work, it would be the Piano Quintet by Brahms.

Piers Lane and Tasmin Little
Saturday 28 June, 7.30pm

Schubert Rondo Brilliant Op.70 D895
Ferguson Violin Sonata No.2
Ravel Pièce en forme de Habanera
Strauss Violin Sonata in E flat major

For information and tickets, click here