I can remember looking at the size of my dad's hands when I was younger, particularly as he played the piano. They seemed huge to me. Huge! I hope mine can stretch that far on the keys someday, I used to think. When I got a little older, I learned what a gift it was to have long fingers, just like my father. It made some pieces easier to play. Dad used to tell me, "Big hands are great for playing Rachmaninoff." He was right. Rachmaninoff was known for his huge hands, which, I'd guess, prompted him to create some of the most difficult (but beautiful) piano pieces the world has known. How on earth is someone supposed to play this stuff? I wondered. It's too hard! My fingers can't reach!
Practice, practice, practice.
To this day, I still can't play a full Rachmaninoff piano piece. I guess it really takes more than practice. It takes a gift. And last weekend's soloist has that gift.
Pianist Simon Trpceski has what I want: a tremendous ability and grace to play Rachmaninoff. Watching and listening to him play Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini was thrilling. Not only did his fingers dance on the keyboard, but his whole demeanor seemed genuinely happy and at ease. And his body got into it, too (which is always the case with Rachmaninoff–the composer demands it of you). The Rhapsody is an absolutely beautiful piece, filled with so many melodies and runs and themes that just grab at your core. In fact, knowing that piece was on the program was the main reason I came to the concert that night. My dad and I are huge Rachmaninoff fans, and I knew I didn't want to miss that Rhapsody.
And I'm glad I didn't.