Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: Alchemy of the Piano, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters.
Will Pickvance assures us at the start of this impressive hour of musical larking around that, in the words of Thelonious Monk, “a piano ain’t got no wrong notes”. Pickvance certainly isn’t afraid of hitting an off key now and again but he generally strikes the right note, showing the same easy, faintly wondrous charm that’s also on display at his children’s show, Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners).
As in that piece, his emphasis is on the piano as a vehicle for enjoyment and exploration. He takes us through his childhood discovery of how a single bass line can “store” any number of melodies, and has fun mashing up national anthems, or finding links between boogie woogie and Viennese waltz. The meat of the show is in his extended improvisatory riffs, notably a bravura opening up of the theme to Forrest Gump (no, really). At other times, the noodling can take on a meandering aspect that remains impressive but perhaps makes for less compelling listening. A tip if you do go: try to select a seat from which you can see Pickvance’s fingers as they work their magic on the keys.
Summerhall (Venue 26) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015
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