So, readers of a certain age will recall the blockbuster movie Ghost starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. I’m guessing that said readers will also recall the *very* steamy scene where Molly is throwing clay on her pottery wheel, and Sam sits down behind her, wrapping his body around hers to “help” her. Yeah, right, buddy. If I had a nickel for every time some guy tried that pottery thing on me! Any hoo… if you haven’t seen it, or you need a refresher, check out the clip below:
Okay, so what does this have to do with my book, Reverie? Well, this scene was what was going through my mind when I wrote the part of the story where Julia is having trouble with the slow movement of the Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata. Jeremy finds her, frustrated and crying, in a practice room and comes in to see if he can help. Now, what I wanted to do was have him sit behind her, reach around and help her to embrace her inner cello vixen. But… since Jeremy doesn’t play the cello, that was just going to be weird. And noisy. Still, it was that pivotal, romantic moment in Ghost that played out in my mind as I wrote the back and forth between these two characters.
It’s a case of seduction by Rachmaninoff!
Check it out:
When he has the piece setup in front of me, he moves around to the back of my chair so he can watch over my shoulder. It would seem, once again, that I don’t have a choice. Oh, what the hell, it can’t get much worse than this.
I pick up the bow and it’s all I can do to keep my hands from shaking as I play.
I only get through the first few notes before I stop in frustration.
“Still not right,” I say, dejectedly.
And then, there is his breath, warm and sweet against my cheek. He’s so close that our faces are almost touching.
“Sex,” he whispers in my ear.
“Excuse me?” I croak.
“This piece is all about sex. When you play, think of the piano as trying to seduce the cello.”
“I don’t… I’m not sure how to convey that…”
Out of nowhere I feel his large hand resting on my shoulder.
“No, wait. I’m sorry to cut you off Julia, but what I just said isn’t quite right. It’s not sex. It’s more than just the physicality of it. It’s making love.”
Oh. My. God.
“Look, I’ll show you.”
He reaches around me to pluck the accompanying piano part off the music stand. Before I can ask him what he’s going to do with it, he has left my side and is pulling the bench out from under the piano. But he doesn’t play piano. Does he?
“Third movement!” he says, getting himself situated quickly. “In three… two…”
“Wait!” I protest but it’s too late.
“One!” Jeremy starts to play the solo piano opening.
I’ll be damned, he does play the piano. And well, too.
Under his fingers, the opening is a nostalgic reverie. I’m hearing things that I missed before. Romance with just a hint of something darker. Not sinister so much as… broken. No, fragile. Bereft? That’s it. Bereft. The mood he creates is so hypnotic that I nearly miss my entrance.
“You’re coming up here…” he calls out over his shoulder.
There’s no time to think, so I just play. This time, as I pull the bow across the strings and allow my fingers to stretch across the fingerboard, I imagine the sound of the cello as a voice, professing its love– a sentiment echoed lovingly by the piano. It goes back and forth, this romantic dialogue. They are separate. They are together. And suddenly the two voices are so intertwined that it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other ends.
In an instant, it’s clear to me what I’ve been missing all this time. Jeremy is absolutely right. This is the sound of lovers, clinging to one another. I’m so drawn-in that I can feel my own pulse quicken as the intensity mounts. It crests and slowly dissolves into the quietest, most intimate of utterances. When the last note is played I can only sit there, staring at the music, bow hanging from my hand. He has turned around and I can feel his eyes fixed on me, gauging my reaction to what has just happened.
“Wow,” I say when I can finally meet his gaze. It comes out as barely a whisper. “That was… amazing.”
He smiles at me and, in an instant, he is on his feet. Still reeling from the emotional performance, I watch in stunned silence as he takes the cello from me and lays it gently on its side. He squats down so that we are at eye level, and presses his lips to mine. It is delicate and firm, confident and tentative all at once. After a long moment, he extricates himself from me and walks over to the door.
“Now do you understand?” he asks softly.
I can only nod dumbly.
Jeremy smiles, nods and slips back out into the hallway, letting the soundproof door shut tight between us.
Now, if you’d like to see the real-life musical inspiration that came along with this section, check out the chemistry between real life husband and wife, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han as they play the movement Julia and Jeremy played in the scene above. Do yourself a favor and take the six minutes to watch the whole thing and keep an eye on their body language: how he looks back at her while they’re playing and how passionately she plays:
Hot stuff, right?! And people think classical music is dull!