Montecastelli: the cello-piano duet

So we went on stage. I remembered that I always hated being on stage alone, on the piano. I never understood the difference between practice and stage. Why one was important, and the other one not.

The whole lab was watching from below, gathered in this small chapel made of stones, in the middle of Tuscany. It was cold, but not too cold. It was odd, but not too odd.

He pulled his bow – played the levée –

And I fell in love.

I fell in love with the moment.

When you perform with someone, it is not just maximising your potential to make it perfect. It’s much more generous, more unpredictable.

The coexisting emotions catch me off guard. Surprise, anticipation, but also fear. This was our unspoken pact, during practice, but what now? Will we both be able to hold our end of the bargain?

The hard part comes. We manage through, together, and I feel overwhelmingly grateful. You rarely feel gratitude when you play solo.

Followed by this sense of belonging when you accelerate and stay synchro – before slowing down. Slowing down is hard; there are so many different ways to slow down. Is this also true in life? Is there a common way to accelerate, but no guide to slow down at old age? But I digress.

He detects my impatience, follows, and I catch his skid just in time. “No one noticed. We’re fine.” It’s us against the world.

And when you let go and really hear the music, you realise it’s amazing because it’s tainted with imperfection, complicity and pride. It’s alive out there, during those precious few minutes –

Before the sudden transition to reality with the hands, clapping, the echoes in the chapel. The smiles, the laughters, the unusual bonding across labs and hierarchies.

It was fun.

And I understand now, the difference between practice and stage.

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