René slumped and smoked in the shadows. André sobbed, stoic, distant from the other boys; he foresaw his coming days. Silvain openly wept, burying his face in his hands; financial ruin. Artistic failure. Loïc feared for Silvain. Marie was delighted to be sitting next to André. Apart in thought, together they listened. The room was intense.
The piano pounded out despair; agony lifted from violin strings. Motás and Bernard played the passions that Beethoven once heard. Schooled in the Bohemian cafes, they were flat mates, comrades, brother and brother. A ghost appeared from the spirit world, so moved by Motás, he believed he was called to fore. The Priest they called him.
Motás played fast and tight, intensity breaking a blister on his finger, blood dripped from his fret. Bernard never noticed, so captivated by himself, by their interplay.
And so, I imagine.
Do you know this image? “Listening to Beethoven”; an oil painting hangs in Naples, executed in 1900 by Lionello Balestrieri. It aims to depict the Bohemian life in Paris at the time, though Balestrieri never visited.
After it’s unveiling, This painting was very popular for tourists, and they could buy, at the museum gift shop, a large photograph, black & white, hand tinted with reddish-brown paint, a technique called sepia. I have one of these, found it in an antique shop, set into a ~1940s frame. The photo is about 10”x20”.
Beethoven’s music is beautiful and intimidating, but I wondered, what piece could generate such emotions as depicted here? Kindly contributor Stephen Hegg suggested that I take a listen to “Kreutzer Sonata”. I chose this version.
Searching further, I chose another: “Spring Sonata”
The interplay between the violin and piano is mesmerizing. Various moods come to play – a cotillion lightness will give way to a sudden frenzy of anguish. Musical complexities, sure, but central to these pieces is the delicate interplay of emotions.
Pay attention, you might miss something.