The serene broken chords of the first Prelude in JS Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavierpass from pianist Sonja Lifschitz to her pianist colleagues Natalia Ricci, Yanghee Kim, Elena Kats-Chernin, Tamara-Anna Cislowska and Stephanie McCallum in turn. The six pianists sit at six grand pianos, lids off, that splay out from a central point, like a flower in the centre of the Sydney Town Hall. The colours of Bach’s chords – well-known also as the basis for Charles Gounod’s setting of the Ave Maria – shift ever so subtly as they pass beneath the hands of the six players and across the keys of the six pianos: three Faziolis, two Sauters and a Shigeru Kawaii.

12 Hands 6 Grands at Sydney Festival 12 Hands 6 Grands at Sydney Festival. Photo © Jacquie Manning

Bach is the focus of the first bracket of music in 12 Hands 6 Grands, a concert curated by Sydney International Piano Competition Artistic Director Piers Lane at the Sydney Festival. From the opening Prelude, Ricci launches into BWV 846 Fugue, soon joined by Lifschitz, in an arrangement by Australia’s...