By Veronika Kallus
What kind of father will the pianist be? What kind of son is he, to become a pianist? These are the grand questions that lead Will Pickvance through his – what is it? A comical concert? A virtuoso’s variation on his life’s theme? A performance with artistic pauses? The pause. The musical pause. A pause in music is always for effect, always a creation of space to dwell on, think about. A pause in music never means emptiness. This is one of the first concepts the pianist teaches the audience. A break is always calculated, adding to the music and melody just as much as played notes, if not more. He demonstrates it with “An der schönen blauen Donau” by Strauss, and practises it throughout his show.
His whole performance is based on the interaction between spoken word and (seemingly) effortless piano playing. Framed by Brahm’s Lullaby, the music diverges from Beethoven to Jazz, from Forrest Gump to the Beatles to Scottish (visitors’) favourite folk tunes. His stories reach from childhood to fatherhood, far and wide across the country. The Anatomy Theatre at Summerhall is the ideal setting for a performance like his as it enables the entertainer to interact very closely with the audience which adds even more to the superb act.
After years of performing, his style is as refreshing and unusual as ever, his skill and diversity outstanding, fascinating and impressing occasional listeners as well as professional experts. When he seems to be just idly playing a few notes, changing the style, improvising apparently aimlessly, the audience’s astonishment becomes almost tangible when they finally recognise a piece of music he has been playing with all along. Will Pickvance is not just playing music. He plays with music.