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Beauty and the Beast

Yuja Wang and Yefim Bronfman play Rachmaninoff



is twenty nine years old. A brunette China doll,

is wearing a skin-tight red bandage dress that shows off

her bare legs and almost naked back. Her slim fingers

shimmer and skip over the piano keys, shimmer and pound

in ecstasy.  The heels of her four-inch stiletto patent leather shoes

are glued to the floor while her toes press the pedals

like irregular heart beats. A short boyish hairdo accentuates

her slanting eyelids, her lips talking to the notes, almost

eating them with love bites. She is so tiny that she needs to

slide her whole body from side to side to reach the lowest

bass notes and the highest treble ones in one glissando run.

In the wild applause after finishing the concerto she stands up

and bows quickly, goes to hug the conductor. The top of

her head almost reaches his shoulder.



is dressed in an ill fitting black suit. Overweight would be

a polite description. Looks like a bouncer, an undertaker or

perhaps a butcher. The Russian conductor grimaces then nods

as the pianist’s plump fingers spin out the melody, his face a study

in fierce concentration. He’s like a huge bear climbing a mountain

music pouring out of him like honey. His bulk hangs over the

keyboard at times like a thundercloud, coaxing drops of liquid

beauty into a shower over the listeners, their mouths open, ears

reverberating in the rhythm and thrill of it. As the audience explodes

he gets up, shakes his shaggy head, enfolds the conductor in

an animal hug and shambles off the stage.



are playing the same piano concerto. If it were not for You Tube

we would never feel and see how different they are – would only

hear how similar, both moving between delicate feminine passages

and powerful masculine phrases in rapture. How something inside

each of them connects in the same way with something inside us.


Our eyes closed, heads in the music, we hear only their fingers

dancing blindfolded over the keys.

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© Johnmichael Simon



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