Black satin; gold letters proclaiming its distinguished pedigree, time would tell what the noble figure on the TFAC stage, genderless and still, would become. It’s first run lay before it, the start of the TCA season, Tuesday, October 17, 2017.
Gwen Suesse entered the floor, our introduction to a piano she anticipated would be an inspiration for us and an act of benevolence for great grandchildren and beyond to reflect upon and enjoy.
What will be said of it fifty or even a hundred years from now? Will artists the world over reference it in small talk with friends and colleagues? Will people in all walks of life and pursuits of excellence be drawn to it?
It was a watershed moment. In the solemnity of it, my thoughts flashed to my own introduction to music. I remembered the dust motes floating in myriads upon the morning sun that bathed a six-foot Chickering grand in the music room of my childhood. There was life in that room. A statue of a young horse was to the side of the music.
Serendipitously, the first ride was by The Montrose Trio, a more propitious combination of musical talent for the occasion being inconceivable: Jon (”Jackie”) Kimura Parker, pianist, Martin Beaver, violist, and Clive Greensmith, cellist. They, too, are at a beginning of sorts, forming after the Tokyo String Quartet disbanded in 2013. Their collaboration, however, is from far back, Martin being first violinist in the TSQ since 2002, and Clive there since 1999. Jackie had performed with them often.
Second, the combination of instruments is ideal, the number, also. Our piano now, like any instrument, has its own personality…all pianos not being the same. The strings of the violin’s treble and the cello’s depth, interact with the formidable structure of strings within our piano. The fullness and richness will take time to develop and different qualities will alter somewhat over the years. There are a host of reasons, the wood itself being one primary factor. However, we hear what resonates between the two older instruments (strings can be centuries old) and the new one. The string artists will temper how they play by what they hear in this piano. The pianist will see what it can do in dialogue with the strings. First impressions under the right conditions are definitely indicative of directions, of what the future may hold.
Third, the selection of music was inspired. The musicians chose to play piano trios by three great composers who used that form early on. Dmitri Shostakovich was 16; Johannes Brahms was 20; Ludwig van Beethoven was 25, not presenting works as early. There is wisdom in doing this. Everything speaks of youth, its simplicity, its passion, and the origin of what it will become.
The evening was magnificent. Whether the marvel before us could be cast as colt or filly, the first ride, Dmitri’s love song, was so propitious after the bows Jackie turned back to the exhilarated audience. Bets were going down early, requiring comment.
Incredibly, Jackie, was precisely the right man to comment. He’d been in close relationship with Steinway & Sons for the past 33 years, beginning in 1984. Of obscure significance, Shostakovich lived from 1906 to 1975, writing his trio in 1922 at 16, his ardor unabashed and purpose unrestrained in Stalin’s regime. Jackie was born in1959, on Christmas Day. He, too, was 16, the year Shostakovich died.
He’d been here before, in 2009. We knew him, he us. This was not just anybody. He’d been sent back. Significances seem to follow him. His
words were, “I’m amazed!”
As we were, too. There will be the prints of its hooves, the striking keys, to remind us passing through this temporal evanescence, of Beethoven’s ascents and Brahms’s glens, for the times to come, for the strength that will be ours.