The pianist in the piano trio introduced the Schumann saying it was a ‘tormented’ piece. Most of Schumann, he said, was ‘tormented’ but this third trio was ‘particularly tormented’. Then it was time for the Schubert. He said Schubert was also a ‘very tormented composer, especially in his late work’. This piece was from his late work but it was only ‘moderately tormented’. This was, presumably, a great disappointment to us all. At te start of the concert we had heard an early Mozart trio which was ‘not tormented at all’. I suppose the pianist saw himself as pretty tormented himself. He hadn’t shaved for a couple of days, so that probably proved it. The violinist, who had that red blubbery skin that can’t grow a beard at all, did not have a hint of torment about him, and the cellist was as cherubic as a schoolboy. So between them it was only the pianist who was bothering with the tormented vibe. Good luck to him. Torment sells.
I myself am pretty untormented these days. I think I grew out of it when I started taking an extra slice of cake. Torment wasn’t giving me enough back. These days I’m the harmonious type, at one with the universe. Here, cake helps. As I get older I find its the holistic, balanced role I play, which in many ways goes against my nature. I was born to be tormented. I can grow a beard and everything. But the older you get, the less the tormented look is attractive. I mean, when life gets going, you’re given the data, deal with it.