The pianist

Evgeny Kissin

The pianist

Home in the early hours
         along the lonely path
from the railway station
         the temperature has fallen
the dew is descending
         and the grass is furring up
with a delicate frost

and I remember his hands
         as he felt his way through Brahms
felt his way through his feelings
          tentative and yet decided:
the instruments of passion
         at his fingertips melody
which he caresses as the lover
         that lies within
gently phrasing his affections

Leaning in he extracts a cascade
         a stream of notes picked
from the calm domestic world
         that surrounds him
the rhythm shifts but the identity
         doesn’t change
He has nothing to reveal
         he is the revelation
on a walk through the woods
         here a rose there a robin
an eagle soaring above a stream
         of crystal clear water
He has become
         part of the world narrative
a rich fragment
         a billowing love song to life
and to natural beauty
         : here children play
you can hear their laughter
         as they race down the hill
here love goes hand in hand
         surges in moments of ecstasy
and subsides into peace :
         the piano has become a carapace
he bears the weight
         on his shoulders—a shell
a habitat          an exuberant
         meteorological space

Lost within a score
         he leans back
adjusts his cuffs
         and shakes his wrists
to loosen the remaining
         notes that lie within him
Faith and hope and charity
         the variegated satisfactions
of a domestic universe
         an impassioned partnership
in which he has dissolved into Brahms
         a marriage and a resurrection

and so the frost falls
         and the night sleeps on
until lovers
rise from each other’s arms
         into the new day

John Lyons

The poem above is based on notes taken during a brilliant performance of Brahms’ Three Intermezzos Opus 11 given by Evgeny Kissin at the Barbican theatre on 10 March 2016.


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