Thursday, 19 July 2018
I Disgrace You By Exploding
It's three weeks ago now, but the final chords of Busoni's piano arrangement of Bach's Chaconne in D Minor are still ringing in my ears. Maybe it's because of the commitment with which you played; maybe it's something to do with the heat that evening and since then: a heat in which everything expands, rises; something to do with returning to Cosy Hall, Newport, Shropshire, to re-record the first half of the concert ... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Here you are, intent at the piano, as I noticed all those years ago in my poem The School Concert. And we were intent too - your audience. Intent on the music, on your youthful confidence in attempting a huge programme. Beethoven. Brahms. Bach. All the Bs. And as if that wasn't enough of a challenge - three pieces for guitar by Villa Lobos. And Chopin to conclude. You have such style.
Son, you don't know this, but last night
at the concert, I disgraced you by exploding.
I try to hold myself in at these events - those occasions when my heart threatens to give out, give up, give over, give in to the pride, terror, passion of watching you play the music.
It was when you were sat, back straight,
intent at the piano and all my love for you
crescendoed into beats so loud they surely
drowned out your perfect notes.
Performance is communication, and you communicated power, youth, hope beyond perfection. And in the Brahms Intermezzi, tenderness. And through the Villa Lobos something else - playfulness and intensity. Most of all, you communicated passion for the music and the sheer pleasure in skill resulting from hours and hours of practice.
I had to shut my eyes at times. It wasn't that I wasn't sure of you. I wasn't sure of myself.
I shut my eyes, controlled my breathing
as at your birth. It was as useless
as it was then, and my life burst out of me
flooded the hall red with all the years
since our final strain of childbirth.
I wrote the poem after the first school concert - this concert was the last marker of your school days. A flourish before what comes next - holidays, student life, moving on, finding other patterns and rhythms.
Last night, they applauded you
as they should've done then, when
open-mouthed, you sang cries to the new world.
And, oh yes, I have privileges. I got to hear the first half again, when we went to re-record it the following week, having discovered that it hadn't recorded first time. And here it is ...
Live at Cosy Hall
Jonty Lefroy WattClick on this link for Jonty's Albums on Bandcamp - £3 to download. CDs also available.