Alex and the young Asian pianist

11.Bolshoi_Theatre_1I went to a piano recital last night, hoping to see Alex. Alex is a 70 some years old man, whom I met in the last recital. I’m usually not a big fan of the classics, but Alex played with such joy that I couldn’t help being affected by his mood. He played Beethoven’s Pathetique 1st Movement. I didn’t know I was fond of Beethoven before that night!

Interestingly, another performer that night, a young Asian woman, also performed that exact piece. So I had the rare opportunity of comparing different playing styles on the same piece of music. You’d think they ought to be quite similar if not identical, as it is classical music. But they were blatantly different. The young Asian woman was a better pianist. Her strokes were clean and her techniques were impeccable. But I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the joy and the passion in her play. I only heard perfection.

It reminded me of my visit to Bolshoi Theater Moscow to see Swan Lake. The dance was flawless, the lead male dancer’s technique was beyond reproach, and all in all it was an excellent show. But, yes I know, there is always a “But”. After each piece of music, the dancers would stop to bow and curtsy to the audience and to receive applause. Don’t get me wrong. I’m more than willing to give applauses. It’s just these pauses broke up the story flow, and you couldn’t get as emotionally involved with the show as you would otherwise do.

I chatted with Alex after the performance, and I asked him when he started to play piano. He smiled and said that he started when he was already in his adulthood in his 20s. I could see that he really enjoys playing and I could picture him playing hours and hours for fun at home. Then I realized, I don’t envy perfection. I envy passion. I want to be just like Alex.