Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Symphony of the air

The great virtuoso pianist, Van Cliburn, has passed on. I read his obituary in The Economist in a state of shock … that turned to elation for the talent of the man and the joy his music brought to my life.

How many numberless hours had I spent spellbound at the sound emanating, soaring, from a spinning long-play record, during my growing up years! That music spread to the tingling tips of my being till the world took an irrevocably aurum hue. Unimaginable emotions welled up within me ignited by that astonishing, that phenomenal power and intricacy of music.

Years later, by an inexplicable preordaining of innumerable coincidences, the love for ornithology and music found kinship with R and on a music drenched evening, I recalled to him the lost bars of Cliburn’s heart-stirring performance through the gleaming Grundig, smelling of warmed wax when its lid was lifted, in dad’s room. Too many years had passed, and I could not recall that heartbeat of opening bars … till R spoke of Richter and we watched that massive Russian sink his immense hands into a grand piano and draw from its innards such sinews of golden sound that I was pinned to my chair, tears smarting from unblinking eyes, the hair on my nape and upper arms set aflame by a resonating chord! That giant Russian virtuoso brought back Rachmaninoff’s immeasurably memorable 2nd Piano Concerto … the very symphony of the air that I was enslaved to during my teenage years—a recording of Cliburn’s unbelievable performance that conquered Soviet Russia’s cultural heart.

The flood gates of emotional attachments need a mere stirring of memory to let loose a roaring deluge of days gone by … what bliss follows then, ruminating.

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