Piano Notes: The Hidden World of the Pianist by Charles Rosen - review by Alexander Waugh

Alexander Waugh

Music And Madness

Piano Notes: The Hidden World of the Pianist


Allen Lane The Penguin Press 246pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

THE COVER IS magnetic - a black-and-white photograph of George Gershwin's crossed hands playing a C major 7th chord. If you can understand the allure of that. you  are the right reader for this book. Every aspect of it, from the cover inwards, has been tailored to the voracious appetite of the piano fetishist - the sort of person for whom the very sight of a black-and-white keyboard convulses the body with shivers of desire. There are more of us pervs about than you may care to imagine.

Once isolated figures, we are now an international movement, cross-pollinating ideas about out-of-print, left-handed arrangements of Chopin etudes on Internet forums, squabbling over the merits of the latest recording of Medtner's Night Wind, offering each other fingering advice or bitterly complaining about the slur markings in a recent edition of Beethoven's Bagatelles. What a life! We thmk we enjoy it (perhaps we do), but there is a paradox. The pianophile, like all fetishists, is ultimately only contented to follow his own nose. He desires to share information with like-minded enthusiasts. but usudv for the purpose of rejecting theirs and bolstering his own corner. He is conceited and blinkered, a hoarder and an addict,

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