IJMC How You Play Your Instrument

                    IJMC - How You Play Your Instrument

You know, I actually feel sorry for this guy. He came to play a simple 
concert while events conspired against him one after another. I wish he 
might have been allowed to finish what he started...              -dave

                       A Humid Recital Stirs Bangkok

  (This review by Kenneth Langbell appeared in the English Language Bangkok 
   Post.  It was made available by Martin Bernheimer of the Los Angeles 
                     (Reprinted from the Washington Post)

       THE RECITAL, last evening in the chamber music room of the Erawan
     Hotel by US Pianist Myron Kropp, the first appearance of Mr. Kropp in
     Bangkok, can only be described by this reviewer and those who 
     witnessed Mr. Kropp's performance as one of the most interesting 
     experiences in a very long time.
        A hush fell over the room as Mr. Kropp appeared from the right of
     the stage, attired in black formal evening-wear with a small white
     poppy in his lapel.  With sparse, sandy hair, a sallow complexion and
     a deceptively frail looking frame, the man who has repopularized
     Johann Sebastian Bach approached the Baldwin Concert Grand, bowed to
     the audience and placed himself upon the stool.
        It might be appropriate to insert at this juncture that many
     pianists, including Mr. Kropp, prefer a bench, maintaining that on a
     screw-type stool they sometimes find themselves turning sideways
     during a particularly expressive strain.  There was a slight delay,
     in fact, as Mr Kropp left the stage briefly, apparently in search of
     a bench, but returned when informed that there was none.
        As I have mentioned on several other occasions, the Baldwin
     Concert Grand, while basically a fine instrument, needs constant
     attention, particularly in a climate such as Bangkok.  This is even
     more true when the instrument is as old as the one provided in the
     chamber music room of the Erawan Hotel.  In this humidity the felts
     which separate the white keys from the black tend to swell, causing
     an occasional key to stick, which apparently was the case last 
     evening with the D in the second octave.
        During the "raging storm" section of the D-Minor Toccata and
     Fugue, Mr. Kropp must be complimented for putting up with the awkward
     D.  However, by the time the "storm" was past and he had gotten into
     the Prelude and Fugue in D Major, in which the second octave D plays
     a major role, Mr. Kropp's patience was wearing thin.
        Some who attended the performance later questioned whether the
     awkward key justified some of the language which was heard coming
     from the stage during softer passages of the fugue.  However, one
     member of the audience, who had sent his children out of the room by
     the midway point of the fugue, had a valid point when he commented
     over the music and extemporaneous remarks of Mr. Kropp that the
     workman who had greased the stool might have done better to use some
     of the grease on the second octave D.  Indeed, Mr.  Kropp's stool had
     more than enough grease and during one passage in which the music and
     lyrics were both particularly violent, Mr. Kropp was turned 
     completely around.  Whereas before his remarks had been aimed largely
     at the piano and were therefore somewhat muted, to his surprise and
     that of those in the chamber music room he found himself addressing
     himself directly to the audience.
        But such things do happen, and the person who began to laugh
     deserves to be severely reprimanded for this undignified behavior.
     Unfortunately, laughter is contagious, and by the time it had
     subsided and the audience had regained its composure Mr. Kropp
     appeared somewhat shaken.  Nevertheless, he swiveled himself back
     into position facing the piano and, leaving the D Major Fugue
     unfinished, commenced on the Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor.
        Why the concert grand piano's G key in the third octave chose that
     particular time to begin sticking I hesitate to guess.  However, it
     is certainly safe to say that Mr. Kropp himself did nothing to help
     matters when he began using his feet to kick the lower portion of the
     piano instead of operating the pedals as is generally done.
        Possibly it was this jarring or the un-Bach-like hammering to
     which the sticking keyboard was being subjected.  Something caused
     the right front leg of the piano to buckle slightly inward, leaving
     the entire instrument listing at approximately a 35-degree angle from
     that which is normal.  A gasp went up from the audience, for if the
     piano had actually fallen several of Mr. Kropp's toes if not both his
     feet, would surely have been broken.
        It was with a sigh of relief therefore, that the audience saw Mr.
     Kropp slowly rise from his stool and leave the stage.  A few men in
     the back of the room began clapping and when Mr. Kropp reappeared a
     moment later it seemed he was responding to the ovation.  Apparently,
     however, he had left to get a red-handled fire ax which was hung back
     stage in case of fire, for that was what was in his hand.
        My first reaction at seeing Mr. Kropp begin to chop at the left
     leg of the grand piano was that he was attempting to make it tilt at
     the same angle as the right leg and thereby correct the list.
     However, when the weakened legs finally collapsed altogether with a
     great crash and Mr. Kropp continued to chop, it became obvious to all
     that he had no intention of going on with the concert.
        The ushers, who had heard the snapping of piano wires and
     splintering of sounding board from the dining room, came rushing in
     and, with the help of the hotel manager, two Indian watchmen and a
     passing police corporal, finally succeeded in disarming Mr. Kropp and
     dragging him off the stage.

IJMC May 1997 Archives