Yes! Intimacy is the essence. Yesterday I listened to Schubert’s Arpeggione, played by Benjamin Britten and Mistslav Rostropovich. I am working on it with friends, both in the alto and cello version. Intimacy, mutual inspiration in conversation, utter concentration, technical perfection. Sure, on superb instruments, but those men would have done it on a toy piano and a stringed tea box. Lewd little joke.
I understood: the intimacy asks for elimination of every disturbing influence from the outside and the inside. They are the music. They make the silence. There should be no distance between the composer, the work, the players, the instruments, the listener. For a pianist the essence is ‘to play as if you are touching the strings with your fingers’, one of my teachers said.
You can hear Britten play like a composer, seems to me- he deeply understands the work of his colleague. It is all true, simple, sensitive, honest, pure. And Rostropovich plays like a director, pulling the strings. I should stop making jokes.
However, intimacy is the core, yes. And we will enjoy it next time — and again- while we try to remember our master’s voices.