I went to a four-hand piano concert at the Church of the Epiphany today. The first piece on the program was Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”. This was, of course, written as a chamber piece, but apparently has been used as a two person piano piece for some time. I don’t know the history; I don’t know if there is a standard arrangement, or a group of arrangements. I don’t really know much of anything on the subject. But I do know that I like it much better with orchestral instruments than with two pianos. In fact, I found the double piano rendition disconcerting enough, so that I didn’t know whether or not pianists Bonnie Kellert and Grace McFarlane played it well.
My question about their competence vanished, however, with the next three pieces: Schubert’s Fantasia in F minor, Ravel’s Ma Mere L’oye, and Faure’s Dolly, pieces written for four hands, and played beautifully.
Milton Berle’s adopted son, Bill, published a book a few years ago called My Father, Uncle Miltie. I have been reading it off and on over lunch at the office. I have almost finished it. As a piece of literature, it fails to get a passing grade. As a curiosity piece, it is OK, if a bit unrestrained. What do I learn from it? That Berle was, not surprisingly, a man who thought an awful lot of himself, and who had more than his share of negative idiosyncracies. Also, that I am very happy that I was not Milton Berle. And equally happy that I am not Bill Berle, both of whom (to the extent you can believe the book) I am happy not to have had to deal with in person.