Husaby Kirk and Opus 110
Compared to the dainty little beach cafe piano in Denmark, the Yamaha upright in the hallowed space of Husaby had something very different to say.
It had the kind of dry, fiery bass to awaken the dead and stir them within their granite tombs.
Hans and Elenor had taken me to one of their favourite hilltops and so to the church where all the Kings of Sweden had been sanctified.
There was a quality of historic, austere silence in the heavy stonework. It met the vibrancy of Beethoven’s music with a neutral impassivity. The unyielding surfaces could not absorb the sound and so the music seemed to hang in the airy cool spaces to cascade over us.
The visitors stopped milling around and either sat or stood, finding themselves becalmed as they listened.
Hans, Elenor, Richard and his friend were also motionless in their close little family group beside the piano.
Time itself became an illusion, and as I played it was as though nothing else existed but separate ribbons of notes loosely, seamlessly interlacing with one another to dissolve again and again.
The stillness seemed to expand not only upwards into the ribbed vaults and bosses above us but beyond into another dimension altogether.
Every note, every phrase, pause, cadence had its own precise sunlit shaft upon which to hover and speak in perfect unhurried acquiescence, suspended moment upon moment before evaporating back into the ether.
Whilst the low mantle of bass notes unfurled and swept about our feet, the treble curled and pressed its arching gesture heavenwards until in an ascending shimmering vortex it spun, glittering above us before drifting away on threads of gossamer.
The closing bars of music finally settled back into the silence and at last even the ancient masonry seemed to exhale in deep, warmed satisfaction.
Turning back towards to their healthy, tanned faces, everybody looked radiant, opened, at peace. Hans’ soft eyes were brimming with tears.
We closed the lid of that passionate, good-hearted Yamaha and emerged from the gloom of the shadows to bathe again in the sun’s warmth.