Scott Wainwright, professor at a prestigious conservatory of music, thinks of himself as a concert pianist and teacher. He's upset when his department chair insists he be the accompanist to Joel Michaels, a violinist and fellow professor, in an upcoming recital. As he says, he didn't train to play "second fiddle" to some fiddler.
However, upon meeting Joel, Scott’s crusty exterior begins to crack. Despite a few artistic differences, practices for the upcoming performance go well. Can the beautiful music they perform on stage lead to a deeper connection off of it?
When he got there, Joel's cheeks, nose, and ears were red from the cold. He was wearing jeans, ankle-high leather work boots, with a black sweater under his leather jacket.
About 5'9", he had dark, curly hair, and dark eyes. He had a slight build and, I noticed when he set his violin case down, a cute little ass.
"When I asked Eugenie if you could be my collaborator on this recital, she wasn't sure you'd be willing to do it. I want you to know I'm really glad you agreed."
I didn't tell him I had been practically coerced into it. If we were going to play together, we needed to get off on the right foot, so I mumbled something about looking forward to it.
That first evening we didn't play much. We went over the scores of the two sonatas he'd picked. He explained to me how he wanted to approach each movement. Occasionally he'd pick up the fiddle and illustrate what he meant, and once or twice we ran through a passage together. I must say I was impressed from the beginning with his insights into the music.
We got together often after that. In my studio, of course. There was a piano in his studio, but it wasn't as good as mine.
I was fascinated to watch him play. I've never been one to admire "choreography" from musical performers. You know what I mean. Lenny B. danced all over the podium as he conducted, and that's simply not necessary. Glenn Gould wiggled all over the piano bench and hummed -- off pitch, yet -- as he played. I'm of the sit-still-and-play-it school. Obviously Joel wasn't. He stood with his knees slightly bent and rocked from side to side, often twisting his body. As I've said, I don't usually approve of that sort of thing, but on him it looked good. Even though he was in his late twenties, he looked very boyish. He always had a sparkle in his eyes, he was always enthusiastic. In the weeks we spent preparing, he never seemed to have a down day, was never depressed by the cold, gray weather, indifferent students, faculty meetings, or, apparently, me.
You know what's coming. Yeah. I began to look forward to playing with him. Oh, we argued over phrasing, tempi, dynamics. We both knew that eventually I'd have to play it his way if he insisted, but that didn't keep me from telling him what I thought. And I've never learned to be tactful.