Bach’s Chaconne! I had been going crazy for hours on the keys of my Estonia 225 to try to refine the 94-96 bars, those where Busoni, reversing the melodic passage, divides the melody between the two hands and organizes it so as to seem more like the sound produced by a harp that from a piano. Apparently, they are three easy bars in a context of a rather difficult score but I don’t know why I wasn’t happy with how I highlighted the salient notes … I had therefore stopped with a slightly lost look between staring at the score that wasn’t on the music stand and the end point of the tail of the piano, almost looking for the sure disapproval of the good Ferruccio, when the sound of the bell warned me that someone was at the door.
I wasn’t expecting any visits, the outbreak made us so unsociable, and the courier Amazon had already gone a long time, so there was no chance that I would guess who was materializing. I didn’t use the intercom, but I preferred to look out the window. From above, her image, however feminine, was not clear, also because a strange hat completely covered her head. I gave a small cough, enough to make her look up at me and then I recognized her instantly. We had only met twice before, the first time many years ago, in the swimming pool (fished out by the lifeguard while I was at risk of drowning) and then in Bologna, it must have been ten years ago or maybe less, while walking on the street I had a sudden air crisis that took me straight to the hospital. After all this time! What did she want from me?
She was still a beautiful woman, it seemed time had not affected her features and the sinuous progress on the stairs reminded those actresses who pose as divas even when wrinkles have sculpted their faces. But she didn’t have any.
I made her sit on the sofa next to the piano, she took off her hat and also the dark cape which seemed completely out of place for a warm day like these at the end of May. Her figure now deprived of those clumsy vestments was even more disturbing in her thinness which dug her abdomen and highlighted her hands, tapered like those of a pianist. This last detail gave me a little calm then, it mitigated that strange restlessness that, mindful of our previous meetings, was not reassuring me at all. If she was also a musician, we would certainly have found a common point of discussion, perhaps she could advise me on how to solve those three damned bars … Instead she said nothing, she stood there looking at me, investigating my face and my body as if to catch a sign of weakness, an excuse to assert her absurd reasons.
The impasse of the situation was becoming comic; I could not continue to devote more time to her, the Chaconne waited for my hands, and on the other hand she surely had to visit other people. Oh God, I was comparing her to a salesman who goes from house to house to try and sell an unlikely vacuum cleaner! Perhaps she understood this ill-concealed frenzy of dismissing her and therefore said only two words that seemed to me two bricks: ‘May 2018’!
I expected that sooner or later she would have reminded me of it, damned period the one just mentioned! A piece of news that would have changed my perception of life, of beloved people, of my more or less pleasant occupations. I pretended not to remember, but she had come on purpose, now I understand. I then nodded in assent, made her understand that, if she wanted, I could go down with her, after all Busoni would not have regretted that much, who knows how many will have made havoc of his transcription, damn, not just me … There was no answer, she simply stood up, put on her headgear and cape and walked, alone, towards the door. I ran to the balcony, just in time to notice that he had rang at a gate not far from my house. How many people she had to know! I stayed a while on the terrace, intrigued, I wanted to see it reappear. This time they went down in two, she chuckling, he not at all happy with that visit.
Anguished, I went back to sit at the piano, I attacked the Chaconne from the beginning and when I went to bar 94 I felt my hands flying on that indigestible passage, the right notes came to light without making any effort and I reached the end of the song in a clean way as maybe I would never do it again.
It was only then that I noticed her business card, left on display and on which she had written the phrase ‘soon we will meet again’ …