evening thoughts

I’m sitting here and listening to Debussy and drinking white wine by candlelight. Alone. Debussy was never much of a turn-on composer, you’d say. And I would contradict you. Because Debussy is more feline than you’d understand. When you hear those chords intertwining, sounds mixing together, fluid and sensual, you couldn’t possibly say that Debussy is not a turn-on kind of guy…oh well, not him, his music…you get the point…
I remember the times when I first played something of his on the piano…I was about 16 (ugly age…at that age you either feel that you own the world or you feel owned by it all the time…doesn’t leave much space for personal choices…). I heard my piano teacher playing it and I was so charmed by those sounds that I simply asked her to let me learn that thing…She had a funny glint in her eyes and said “OK, let’s see what you can do with it”. After days of killing my neurons with how it was supposed to be played, I eventually reached a version civilized enough to start to work on. So I went to my teacher and I played it to her. After I finished, she was silent for a short while, and then she told me: “you do realize that you have to make love to the piano while playing it, don’t you?” I was shocked. Not because of the making love part, although 16 is supposed to be an age when that should still have some shocking value, but about me having to treat Debussy in a sexual manner. I simply couldn’t understand that idea. And because of that, my teacher said “You are not ready for this – try this in a few years from now.” I was frustrated, but I had no choice.
Two years later I remembered that and tried again, and this time I listened to the inflections of sounds inside the instrument, as if they were some moans of delight. To many people Debussy is just something very ethereal or misty or…something like that. But take the time to feel those sounds, as they crawl along seconds. Take the time to feel them as they literally lick the time off your skin, leaving behind them just some trace of silent shiver, as a precursor to sheer lust. Take the time to hear all the harmonics as they vibrate deeper and deeper inside of you. Debussy is like a voyeur, provoking feelings and then watching as a perfect spectator how those feelings find their way inside you, as if some delicate vines. And you have to treat it similarly. It’s almost like an endless foreplay…If properly played, the piano should feel your fingers just like your skin would feel a melting cube of ice on it on a Saharan hot day – evaporating much too soon because of the heat, and leaving your skin still longing for the chilling vapors from the air around it. The piano has to yearn for your touch…
(No, it’s not the wine talking right now :)).
She heard me playing it after that. She said nothing afterwards, she only smiled and looked at my hands. I smiled back, and that was all – but we were both aware of the almost imperceptible shiver in my fingers.
Just as it is now. The glass of wine is almost empty, the candle has almost reached its end – the record is slowly heading to the final notes, but somehow I still feel the vibrations in the air around me…



© Liliana Negoi

2 Responses to “evening thoughts”
  1. granbee says:

    Lili, as an almost-lifetime classical pianist, I am especially grateful to you today for this most hauntingly beautiful and sensuous post on Debussy! Yes, the fingers are left tingling and the soul is left kissed! I will NEVER be able to get this post out of my mind when at the keyboard! Truly, you must make the keyboard pant after you, “as the hart panteth after the waterbrook (Psalms).

  2. Hannah Pratt says:

    Wow this is amazing.

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