Friendship – at what price does it come? I used to have a few friends in the past, now I have none. At least none that responds to my definition of friendship. A friend is someone who rings at the door even at the middle of the night because he knows he will always be welcome. Because he knows there will always be a glass of wine waiting for him along with a good laugh or a deeply philosophical discussion. A friend is someone who you don’t have to run after to see or hear a lifesign. A friend is someone to whom you can confide and who will nevertheless always respect your silence. Outside the very tight circle of my family – wife, kid, cat – there’s nobody like that.
It’s sad, but what I find even sadder that I know virtually nobody that has such a friend. This type of friendship seems to have vanished. Is it because my generations grows older? Has it lost the appetite and energy for impromptu proofs of friendship like making pancakes at 2 o’clock in the morning or deciding from one second to the next to hand over the keys for an apartment in Paris with the words: “Have fun!” Is it because the emotional return upon investment is too small? Building and entertaining friendship costs time and energy, it requires listening, a long attention span and a certain degree of spontaneity in giving and in receiving. Usually we excel in receiving and perform in a deplorable way when it comes to giving.
Well I am fed up with giving, and this probably explains why I have no friend that fits the description above. At times it makes me sad, at times it makes me furious and this rant has already 317 words, so I take it I am a little furious right now. Time to talk about music then. Brahms! A man at odds with humanity as such. That character traits makes him extraordinarily sympathetic to me. So does his music So do his Six Piano Pieces, op. 118.
I. Intermezzo in A Minor – How can you put a piece called “intermezzo” at the beginning of a set of piano pieces? Mystery. I detect here a certain furor in the music, coupled to a longing for harmony and tenderness. II. Intermezzo in A Major – Brahms could have called it “brief piece”, no? The mood is different. Serenity is in the air. Does the major key do the trick? III. Ballade – Ah, here is the real Brahms! Anger and an irrepressible will to live. I love this one, I could listen to it endlessly. Turn up the volume for the first part, play it loud and hard-charging! And then the gentle part, easy, easy, calm it, taming the beast. And back to the fast-paced figures of the beginning to hammer the message home.
IV. Intermezzo in F Minor – Brahms is in a hurry, impatient, tense, undecided, confused and confusing, lost, depressed and depressing. Isn’t it amazing how many emotions the composer squeezes into a few bars? It is. V. Romance – Now that’s where Brahms truly excels! Deeply moved and deeply moving, the longing to be loved and valued, the longing for a woman adored and out of reach, romantic love giving you wings to fly away… let it last! Brahms wrote op. 118 in the summer of 1893. Clara Wieck was the first to play the Six Piano Pieces, and is to her that Brahms secretly dedicated them. Finally VI. Intermezzo in E-flat major – A tint of Schubert’s shimmering piano figures, a little of Tchaikovsky’s melancholia, held together by Brahms’ genius. Yes. Not convinced? Try Hélène Grimaud’s fabulous recording.
© Charles Thibo