Sticky situations: 'Never in the history of'
A news story. The recital last evening in the Erawan Hotel by U.S. pianist Myron Kropp, the first appearance of Mr. Kropp in Bangkok, can only be described as one of the most interesting experiences in a very long time.
A hush fell over the room as Mr. Kropp, 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 prefer a bench, maintaining that on a screw-type stool they sometimes find themselves turning sideways during a particularly expressive strain.
Mr. Kropp left the stage briefly, apparently in search of a bench, but returned when informed there was none.
As I have mentioned on several other occasions, the Baldwin Concert Grand, while basically a fine instrument, needs constant attention in a climate such as Bangkok's.
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 he had gotten into the Prelude and Fugue in D Major, Mr. Kropp's patience was wearing thin.
Some who attended later questioned whether the awkward key justified the language heard coming from the stage during the 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 that the workman who 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 particularly violent passage, Mr. Kropp was turned completely around.
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.
Something caused the right front leg of the piano to buckle inward, leaving the instrument listing at a 35-degree angle.
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 the red-handled fire ax which was hung backstage in case of fire, for that was what he had in his hand.
My first reaction at seeing Mr. Kropp begin to chop at the left leg of the 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 and Mr. Kropp continued to chop, it became obvious to all that he had no intention of going on with the concert.
The ushers 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 h im off the stage.