Art is a hungry master, often demanding no less than all. Chekhov’s Nina, at the end of “The Seagull,” found this to be a drudgery, but there are many of the un-famous out there who render homage to the quest. Few professions require the level of perseverance that a life in the arts demands. Yet those who do persist, many unsung, make rare things every day and enjoy the inestimable privilege of hearing Shakespeare and Mozart come out of their mouths. Being an artist is making the trip to Baudelaire’s island. Once you have heard that performance or two which cannot be forgotten, which showed you what was really in the piece, which made you feel that this was the performance you always knew but hadn’t heard – there is no going back.
Once again, the Williams Bösendorfer Recital program has given us the opportunity of hearing a gifted younger musician display his musicianship with the singular obstacles of a mismatched instrument in an unpleasant acoustic. A portable acoustical shell has been introduced to remedy Chapin’s muffled sound. I heard a favorable judgement of this innovation at the New England Baroque Orchestra concert, which I unfortunately missed, butit was of little help with a solo piano: the music, instead of sounding as if it were being played in another room with the door partially open, sounded as if it were being played in a tunnel, or perhaps a swimming pool. The Williams Bösendorfer has never been a credit to its justly famed manufacturer, partly, it could be, because of the Berkshire climate and partly because it is too much instrument for the hall. The instrument is extremely loud, and so was the pianist, painfully so, occasionally giving me the feeling of being in close quarters with a mad rhino.