A side door opens and out strolls the soloist, with the conductor following just a step behind. And for those who look close enouh...is that a smile? Just a tiny one. But that secret smile turns the conductor's walk into something different. Not a swagger. There's no haughiness in it. But there's a sense that she knows exactly what's about to happen. And it's gonna be good.
The soloist sits down and fans out the tails of his tux as only a pianist can. He positions the bench just so. He briefly moves his hands up and down the line of keys. And then...it happens.
The soloist and the conductor lean in toward each other, and as a glimmer passes between their eyes they breathe together and launch into the song.
If the audience wasn't riveted before, they're captivated now.
The soloist isn't the first person to play this piece. It's been done by all kinds of pianists all over the world. But no one has performed it quite the way he's doing it now. Because the notes on the page are just a piece of the puzzle. There's a freedom and joy found beyond the structure.
The soloist is reaching the end of a section of the song. I can tell because of the way the music is ebbing and flowing. And just as he's getting to the point where the orchestra will take over the dominant part of the music...aha! I saw that smirk! He looked up for the briefest moment to catch the eye of the conductor to make sure they were in sync with each other. But it wasn't business-like at all. She grins as if they'd just shared a private joke, even as she turns back to guide the orchestra. They're having too much fun.
It's a conspiracy I say! Between the soloist and the conductor. He's focused on what he's doing, but he knows he's not alone. His performance is backed up and augmented by the contributions of all the players who share the stage with him. And while he's putting his own flair on the notes, those consipiratorial glances keep it all together.
You ready for this next part? You bet!
I heard that! Yeah, I know...but it worked out just fine.
Did you hear how I slowed down that one phrase? I was really feeling it. I'm right there with you.
You nailed it. That was awesome! I know, right?!
My cue is... Right...here. Go!
I don't know if anyone else sees it, but I do. And I'm taking notes.
Photo credit to colors98 (still away) on Flickr