excerpt from 'The Golden Sovereign' pp. 55–56 (409 words)

excerpt from 'The Golden Sovereign' pp. 55–56 (409 words)

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The Golden Sovereign

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Within a few minutes, Jack was at the piano, Old Harry at the violin, and Young Harry at the ’cello.  One or two differences of view about tempo, a false start, owing to a defective tuning of the fiddle, and then the music launched out into the open, Jack playing from sight, his great nose white, his lips indrawn, the muscles of his cheeks twitching, his silky hair lying lank over the neat skull.  I could feel the knowledge, instantly translating itself from theory to living music, as it flowed from his hands.  They appeared to cling to the keyboard like hungry birds alighting there, for he had devised a muscular stance (after reading an exposition of Tobias Matthay’s method) in keeping with his own character, so that much was done with a minimum of effort, the full significance and authority finding expression mostly in what he did not do or say.

It was almost a devastating experience for me.  I saw, for the first time, my enigmatic brother’s personality stripped naked, and I was both awed and charmed.  Apart from my wonder at the bravura of playing such a work at sight, I recognised that this particular trio by Brahms, which I have never heard performed since that Sunday in July of 1910, might have been composed as a prophetic portrait of my brother.  He, too, had the passionate reserve, the latent force of lyrical joy and humour, the basis of robust sanity, the sudden soaring up into self-immolation under the prompting of agonised emotional sacrifice.

Bertie and I sat together again during this performance, and I had the illusion that we were kneeling side by side at a sacrament.  They wry humour of the last movement (allegro giocoso) must have touched Jack at the very core of his nature, for he played it as though he were possessed, and actually broke into a sardonic chuckle, in time with the heavy beat of the dance rhythm.  The sweat glistened on Old Harry’s time-tonsure; and Young Harry at the ‘cello, at each emphasis of the detached string quavers, gave a rapid bob over his instrument, causing his mane of hair to fly over his face and almost to flick the strings, adding an unwanted pizzicato.

Annie, sitting with her sewing in the back room, spoke up when the triumph ended.

“That last piece was very loud, Harry dear,” she said.

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excerpt from 'The Golden Sovereign' pp. 55–56 (409 words)


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