There are plenty of professionals who enjoy a bit of amateur music making in their spare time, but there can’t be many practising barristers who can handle the fiendishly challenging music of Charles-Valentin Alkan. But not only is Australian-born, London-based Paul Wee a virtuoso capable of the kinds of pianistic flights of fancy generally considered the preserve of the likes of John Ogdon and Marc-André Hamelin, his debut recital on the Swedish label BIS has earned him a slew of rave reviews and a recording contract to boot.
Paul Wee. Photo © Benjamin Ealovega
Wee grew up in Melbourne, the son of a classical music-loving banker whose work had brought him to Australia. Fascinated by his older brother’s piano lessons, the four-year-old Paul badgered his parents to let him play as well, working his way initially through Suzuki keyboard exercises with perhaps the idea of AMEB exams in mind. But a few years later everything changed.
“I had one of those musical awakenings,” he tells me (he’s on the phone from his Gray’s Inn chambers where he specialises in international commercial law and investor-state arbitration). “I remember my father listening to a CD...