last night we took in the last amarillo symphony orchestra concert of the 2010-2011 season. guest artist for the top half of the program was the very gifted, davide cabassi, (a winner of the van cliburn competition in 2005) performing beethoven's piano concerto no. 1 in c major, opus 15.
i'm not sure what your image of a concert pianist is, but in my mind he would be whippet thin with very long, spidery fingers. cabassi is anything but, however, don't let his appearance fool you, the man can play. he made his entrance on stage dressed in something less than a conventional tuxedo, the jacket down to his knees and squared off at the bottom. his beard was trimmed to a pencil thin line along his jaw. cabassi's fingers flew masterfully through the piece, however the opus being some 36 minutes long, and somewhat repetitious, my mind wandered.
in reverie I pictured cabassi in an 1880's saloon, seated at an old upright piano, hair pulled back behind his ears. a black string tie dangled away from his starched white shirt as he leaned into the piece. clenched in his mouth a long, black cheroot, the blue smoke from it rising lazily to the ceiling. playing as though his life depended on it, beethoven's concerto no. 1 oozed tinnily into the haze at the top of the room.
cowhands gathered on this saturday night to ease the pain of riding the range called a steady chorus of boos in his direction. "play buffalo gal", yelled from the far corner; a beer bottle hurtled in the direction of the pianist's head. cabassi leaned to the side, not missing a note as the bottle crashed into the piano at the spot the player's head had been a moment before. beer ran down the piano's face and onto the keys. cabassi played on, ignoring the boos.
back in the now, there were no boos for cabassi in this place, on this night. when at last the piece ended, the symphony crowd stood (imagine that), showering cabassi with a well deserved ovation and a robust round of bravos.
i cannot name the encore piece cabassi played but i can say the notes from the grand piano and cabassi's magic fingers came to me at warp speed, his playing faster than would seem humanly possible. in a word, astounding.
in all, a very entertaining evening from the man with the fastest fingers in the west, no matter which hall you happen to be sitting in.
davide cabassi, you rock. aio