Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Does He Do when the Music Stops?

Mr. and  Mrs. Buce betook themselves down to the Mondavi Center down in Davis last night for an evening's listen to Murray Perahia at the piano.  It was rewarding enough in its own right but it was also the climactic point in a long story arc. Short version: Mrs. Buce has been stalking this guy for years and across continents like some sort of musical Maltese Falcon.  He eluded her a couple of times before but this time she got it.

Rewarding, I say, but I didn't always find myself keeping my mind on the music.  Sure, he was bravura enough, with a kind of precision that sometimes made you wonder if he was trying to torture the piano into playing like a harpsichord.  But I kept drifting off to the context.  Forty years, give or take, with some notable interludes for health issues (problems with a hand, ugh).  Forty years.  And I would guess, a good chunk, maybe most of it, on the road.  On the road meaning--well, what, exactly?  Three concerts a week?  Four?  More?  A different hotel room every night?   I assume he does not travel with an elaborate equipage.  But what, then?  Is he alone?  How does he fill the time?  My friend who writes mystery novels--he actually kind of likes the road, because he says he gets a lot of work done in hotel rooms. But all he needs is a yellow pad, which I assume the concierge will send up.  I've been in a lot of hotel rooms myself, but I never yet saw one that came equipped with a piano.  An electric keyboard, maybe?  Can that be enough?  And if he is alone and at loose ends all this time in strange hotel rooms--well, how does he keep from drinking?  Even if he doesn't drink, his mini-bar bill must be astronomic.

Oh, and a footnote?   What lunatic thought it right to embellish the stage with two enormous clusters of plant life?  I hope--I assume--they cleared it with the artiste first, but what of the audience, who are supposed to remain quiet and well-behaved?  I don't know, I suppose they might have been plastic.   No matter; every time I looked at them, my nose began to crinkle.

Fn.  Actually, Perahia occupies center stage for a culture clash at Chez Buce.  We are the proud owners of two versions of Bach's Goldberg Variations (actually, more than two, but two that count).  Mrs. B favors the Perahia; I pledge my fealty to Rosalyn Tureck.  Although at the end of the day, I still come back to the point that this stuff was written for harpsichord and harpsichord it should be.  So maybe Perahia was on the right track after all.

Here's Perahia with the final aria from the Goldberg:

And here's a bit  of Tureck:

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