Keeping Score in America: Chapter Ten: My Yearly Visit To "The Rach", His Third Piano Concerto and Olga Kern
By Michael Moriarty
No, we're not talking about Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky".
I am talking about and listening to and gazing at… a Goddess of the piano… a Divinity… who performs Sergei Rachmaninoff's greatest work, his Third Piano Concerto, as if God Himself were the only one listening.
An infinite number of secrets to be shared between this genius of music and of the Pianoforte and the very Almighty who made Olga Kern!
Oh, I don't care whether you believe in your Maker or not!
And I don't care if Olga Kern, in her heart of hearts, is playing this gigantic mountain of a piano concerto and dedicating it to Vladimir Putin!!
Well… I almost don't care. It would break my heart if she did do that… or had.
Dunno if she still performs it.
She says hello to us in the opening statement with such firm clarity and it is, well… wonderfully intimidating.
Sit up and listen!
Oh, Sergei Rachmaninoff whose melancholy became mother's milk to me as it was fed into my ears by my simultaneously sensitive and heartless father. He ordered the abortion of two of my siblings. A double homicide my sister and I were force-fed as Moriarty soup du jour, stuffed down our throats by our divorce-obsessed and drunken mother.
Try Irish and Norwegian divorce!! Ibsen as the entire Sinn Fein!!!!!
Oh, well… such highly dramatic playgrounds for children make one's soul a deep,
She's still in the first movement. Carrying us about our inner lives as if she were Wagner's Siegfried himself!
Or as Sir Tyrone Guthrie used to cry out in rehearsal: "On! On!! Don't go back!!
She's now beginning the second movement!
Can you surpass it?! Ever?!?!
So, you collapse into its siren-like powers. Its dark, melodic call to what?
To a beauty that can only be bought by pain and the understanding of pain.
The pains of life are ultimately God's prelude to blessings and the transformation of all that agony into the sublime shocks of Paradise.
The agonizingly blissful murmurings of God's very Presence in this music!
I'm obviously overboard now.
Even that realization is contained in the music.
The third movement is off to a dangerously brisk start, erasing all sentimentality. Her fingers are flying, dancing an increasingly fierce tour de force on the piano keys… and even when the orchestra attempts to calm her, she answers them with fearfully crisp articulations in any dynamic you might demand of her!
You demand nothing of her!
She's drowning us all in a marriage of composer and performer that has, if ever in my memory, been equaled!!
Coupling her profound sensitivity with her enormously shocking strength, leaving no doubt as to who literally owns these monsters of musical creation, this composition and the piano itself.
We're now into the coda, the clearly delineated culmination and denouement.
Pounding through its last statement, the climax will, indeed, surpass even what we've already experienced!
Rolling through The Rach's giant chords with growing momentum, power and speed, Olga Kern seems determined to kill us, execute us, hang, quarter and machine-gun our souls right out of the complacent littler corners of our routine world!!
You're alive, you fools!!!!
Don't you know it?!?!?!
Live, live, live every moment as if it were your last!!!!!
Because Olga Kern and Sergei Rachmaninoff seem to have demanded that of you.
Others, such as Denis Matsuev, play all the notes impressively and with disarming ease.
However, these adept utterances share nothing that can compare with the soul of Olga Kern. Matsuev's sound and facile brilliance which are, indeed, despite appearances, housing desperately guarded insecurities.
Olga Kern's soul, however, rises from the center of the earth, then up and up, and out into the stars.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.