I get a huge kick when I am able to tell my taxi driver directions in a foreign language. This week I am in China and the tough breed of Shanghainese taxi drivers show no mercy if they can not understand you. After visiting this exciting city for the past 8 years I am happy to finally have succeeded in effortlessly saying the address of my final destination. That made me think about an expression I heard from a colleague in Switzerland: “C’est le ton qui fait la musique” which means ‘it is the tone that makes the music’. Amateur Chinese speakers know the difficulty of tone and intonations very well and whilst working on Mozart K.467 today I had the pleasure of some of having some of the best tones known to man at my fingertips.
One of the many advantages of being a Steinway Artist is the friends I have all over the world who offer me a place to practise and work on fine instruments. Today the Shanghai branch of Steinway let me work on a new model D concert grand. This is not unusual although for me it remains a rare treat that has only been equaled in my memory by the kitchen of Le Gavroche and the brush strokes of Egon Schille. Today I worked on one of the most beautiful and balanced instruments with the ability to express and colour with gradients of finesse and assumption of what I was aiming for like I have never experienced. I was so blown away I could not stop playing. The joy of playing one single note and listening to the beauty of the focus in the sound and to marvel at the longevity of tone does not happen every day.
Blessed are the technicians at Steinway & Sons who manufacture such hand crafted dream machines we know as pianos. I am once again addicted to the world of sounds and colours I always knew was there but somehow heard for the first time today. This propels me to practise even harder to be able to make the sounds I want on a less than ideal instrument we often encounter as traveling pianists.
My taxi driver waits patiently in the gridlocked rush hour traffic while I smile at the back. Calm and fulfilled. Inspired and more than satisfied for today. Who knows what treats awaits my ears tomorrow.
Shanghai 20 May 2015