So maybe you shouldn’t necessarily be smiling, but at least not miserable!
We went to the Gateways Inn in Lenox last Wednesday night for their piano bar. This was following our night at Tanglewood, which will come up in this post as well. Here’s a photo from that night, to get you in the mood.
The room is very comfortable, not too large; intimate setting, I think is the apt description. We were there from the beginning of the evening, along with the wife/girlfriend of the bass player. In walk a few couples, quiet, not really into the music, but not complaining.
The bass player asks his compatriots what should they play of Marian’s? What? Yes, Marian McPartland died that day. Rest in Peace. How about playing Someday My Prince will Come?, I said. ISHI said why not that song from that CD we have in the car and he started singing it. I said it was called For All We Know and he googled it and said I was right. They didn’t know that, so they played Someday, even though I don’t really think it was her song. And she didn’t wait for her prince; she just did what she wanted herself.
There is something about enjoying music that is performed so regally. We had the pleasure of hearing and seeing Menahem Pressler the night before at Tanglewood performing the Mozart Piano Quartet in E-flat, K. 493. Here’s something about this 90 year-old man who smiled almost the entire time while he was performing.
Menahem, his parents and his brother and sister arrived in Haifa just a day before war broke out in Europe. Not so fortunate were his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, all of whom perished in concentration camps.
“We were fortunate to find refuge in Israel, but I was a psychological wreck when I arrived,” he says. “I couldn’t eat. My father accused me of behaving badly, but I simply couldn’t, and I just got thinner and weaker.” He was sent to a recuperation home, where the medicine that “slowly, slowly” healed him was music.
“During a piano lesson, I fainted playing Beethoven’s penultimate sonata (Op 110). I’m sure it was my emotional reaction to this magnificent work which summed up what I felt, everything that had happened. It has idealism, it has hedonism, it has regret, it has something that builds like a fugue. And at the very end, something that is very rare in Beethoven’s last Sonatas – it is triumphant, it says, ‘Yes, my life is worth living,’ and that’s what I feel.”
But back to the dessert.
We weren’t eating; we were imbibing, me a 9 year-old Knob Creek. Quite happy and not really missing out on the food, which was actually “kosher-style”, but not for us. Now, in walk a set of 3 couples; 2 middle-aged and one young; the 2 being as white bread as they come; the other; Asian. I was having a good time trying to figure out what their relationship was; it didn’t look like they really had any relationship at all; they were not very comfortable with each other; it didn’t look like they worked together; and it remained a nice mystery. They ordered dessert and coffee after a while and proceeded to eat. And thus the title of this blentry.
Not a smile amongst them. Not even any hint of enjoyment, not even of the dessert. Oh what a waste! My story was that one of the young people was the adopted son of one of the white bread couples, and the young woman was the girlfriend of the young man. Or maybe that both were adopted and then they became a couple and now they were meeting for the first time! In any case, it wasn’t going well.
Then something changed. The bass player called out to one of the fellows if he would like to play. OH! Musicians? I never would have pegged them as that. They had actually come to hear them play!
People can surprise you.
And then, something else. The young man picked some lint or some such thing off the lapel of the man he was sitting next to. Hm. I think I was right, or at least the first part. And then, little by little, they did indeed begin to smile. And laugh just a bit. By the time they left, they actually seemed to care about each other.
Well, music does it for me, too, for all I know.