Monday, November 14, 2011

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening

On my Leonard Pennario Web log today I allowed myself to gloat over that Leonard was just included in the new Penguin Guide to the 1000 Finest Classical Recordings.

He was listed along with the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky for an album that, originally released on vinyl, looked like this:

My gloating led me to this site where someone is kind enough to share Piatigorsky's autobiography, "Cellist," chapter by chapter.

Unfortunately it does not seem to go up as far as the years when Piatigorsky and Pennario were collaborating, though I have not had time to take a good look. I also could not get the photo gallery to work.

But as I hopefully clicked on Chapter 30 I found this classic, pardon the expression, story:

Once, in a small town in Ontario, there was a party after the concert. I brought my cello and was still wearing full dress.

After being given a cooky and tea I apologetically told the hostess that I must leave soon because my train departed at an early hour the next day. She said that she would help me disappear unnoticed and that a car would be waiting for me in front of the house.

It was a dark and cold night, and the snow was deep. As I walked out of the house, I saw a car with motor running and, grateful for such promptness and consideration, I put my cello in the back seat and settled myself in the front next to the driver, who was a woman, she had a hat covering half of her face.

"It's so nice of you," I greeted her, but before I could tell her the name of my hotel the car sharply shot away and with unexpected gusto, rattling, and skidding sped along the deserted street. The car coughed and jerked and it moved away from the road and brushed into a snowbank, bounced off, and headed into another one. Stunned, I did not utter a word.

Soon there was no road at all, and I saw the car sliding downward toward a forest. My silent and unperturbed lady drove the car straight into the woods, where it finally stopped, sunk in the snow. Only then did I see the face of my driver. Really it was not a face, but a huge grin that covered everything that originally might have been a human face. Mute as before, she got out of the car and crawled under it.

Bewildered, but elegant in white tie and patent-leather shoes, I stood there not knowing what to do. After several vain attempts to communicate with her, I left the lady and my cello and rushed up the hill toward the road to look for help.

Soon I saw a truck coming. I stopped it and explained my predicament to the driver. He was willing to help and said that with his chains and other equipment he hoped that he could pull the car up onto the road. We gently dragged the woman out from under the car, and with her peacefully at my side the truck driver towed us to the hotel.

As I entered the lobby, I saw the anxious hostess and a number of her guests. I was told that the lady was a mental patient. Related to the hostess, she had attended the concert and came to the party with her nurse and doctor, from whom she managed to escape.

Since that ride I am much more careful, and only if a lady driver is pretty will I entrust myself into her care for a journey in the dark.

Ha, ha! I love musicians telling strange stories and that one is a gem. The way he tells it! The car shooting away with unexpected gusto. Then, how she calmly drives into the woods.

Dear Gregor Piatigorsky. No wonder Leonard loved him.

I am looking forward to combing through the rest of this book!

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