Pianists: Lessons of Age

The old man sat at a table in an RCA Victor recording studio in Manhattan and listened to a playback. The cello came on with a rhapsodic, throbbing solo. "Very beautiful," sighed the old man, and tapped Cellist David Soyer approvingly on the knee. Then, a gnarled passage for piano and strings. "No," said the old man, "that's not so good. Here Brahms makes a trap, and we fell in. What shall we do?"

Violist Michael Tree offered a suggestion. "Maybe," he told the old man, "you could come in a little slower,...

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