In the surrounds of St Cecilia’s Hall, my view of pianist Peter Bream is through a glass case displaying a set of tartan-clad bagpipes.
For the most part, the audience was silent and still – so much so that even three rows back I could hear Bream’s breath.
Bream presents an hour of music by composer Satie and the performance is unbroken, with each piece flowing from the next with nothing but some small pauses between. Satie’s music conjures up a sense of the otherworldly. It is at times delicate, grand, discordant and poignant. The experience is meditative and I spend most of my time with my eyes closed, like other audience members around the room.
An accomplished pianist, Bream performs from Aira a faire fuir, Ogives, three preludes from Le fils des etoiles and three of the Gnossiennes. He plays with the gentle zen-like calm one would hope for in a performance of Satie’s fascinating works, with a good balance of technicality and expression.
The program notes that Satie did not strive for the grand epics of other composers like Beethoven, requiring enormous casts. Instead, he sought to create a world in miniature through his music – and this is certainly the case with the pieces selected for this performance. I had hoped to hear Gymnopedie, my favourite of Satie’s compositions, but was pleased to see Gnossiennes performed in front of me for the first time, providing a dramatic finale to this afternoon of music and securing its place on my list of favourites.
Bream takes us to another world through his playing although there were times where this was intruded upon by outside noises leaking into the venue. Happily this was infrequent and for the most part, the audience was silent and still – so much so that even three rows back I could hear Bream’s breath. It was a soothing balm of music for festival-weary travellers and an entrancing way to spend an hour.