Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Ensemble Kla_vier : Four Men, Four Pianos

Ensemble Kla_vier

Genre: Live Music, Music

Venue: St Giles' Cathedral


Low Down

A delightful lunch-time programme of original and classical music from a quartet of exceptionally skilled pianists.


Korean based Ensemble Kla-vier’s publicity boasts of four pairs of hands on four pianos bringing a different perspective to both the old and new.  Now most Fringe venues would struggle to find one grand piano but at least St Giles rustled up a pair to place at the musicians’ disposal.  Cue some hasty musical re-arrangement as well as some care and attention to the logistics of having four, not two hands fighting over the keys.  Result : a programme of music that was a delight as well as a display of the quartet’s consummate techniques.

The quartet opened with Seoul Arirang, one of two pieces in this programme composed by Kisu Bang, a member of the troupe. Alternately light, joyful, playful, reflective and disturbing, it contained elements of Beethoven, Chopin, ragtime and even jazz riffs.  Building to a rousing finale it was a superb piece of virtuoso playing with which to start this forty-five minute recital.

A calming Nocturne from Chopin followed but I wondered how they would cope with a classical piece written for a single pair of hands, given they had four pianists, each with his own unique style of playing.  However, it, too, turned out to be a delight with each pianist displaying real empathy for the work.

The main piece in the programme was again a composition from Kisu Bang, in this case entitled Dokdo Sonata.  Consisting of three movements, this piece again borrowed styles from a number of the great and the less well known classicists.  Intricate harmonies allowed an in-depth exploration of the sharps and flats (black notes on the piano, for those non-musicians that have got this far) as each pianist took the opportunity to stamp his own identity on the work.

And what a thrilling piece it was.  The first movement soared and flowed, whilst the second comforted and calmed.  The third brought energy, emotion and a finale that was as mesmeric as it was frenetic.  Marvellous stuff.

There are just two more recitals on 9th and 10th and this is part of the growing free Fringe programme of theatre and music this year in Edinburgh.  I’d highly recommend you get along and see this if you can.  With Korea perhaps better known for exporting smartphones and super-fast broadband technology, this concert left me wondering whether they could consider exporting a few pianists as well.