With Rachmaninoff, Spring of 1909.
Rachmaninoff: I’m going to put together a piece and it will feel at once like the raising of the final curtain and lowering of hands, like the last tenderly sung word but felt as freshly as the first act of throbbing, like both the thundering of applause–of the kind where purses are dropped about our ankles–and the emptying of a theatre, where programs are scattered about in their paper weight. It will ache with nostalgia and tell of that journey home: the hearers will see the mist rising from morning farms and smell the smoke of wood stoves pouring out of chimneys in the starlight. And it will tell of the moment of return, from the first measure it will sing of it, when everything is laid bare and…and made to smolder. Not in the violence of fire and ash, but like the settling in of afternoon sunlight on the rich red brick in the place where, as Bob Dylan says, “The last radio is playing.” We have at last our first glimpse of home. In a word, it will feel, I hope, like the culmination of our centuries of listening. At least it does so to me. Not of the bowing of our heads into the silence of prayer but of the opening wide of our eyes and our hands together to receive the benediction. The gigue that comes after the minuet. The several kisses of a tear-stained goodbye. The first movement of a piano concerto in d minor!