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Can we keep them?



Recently we, the violinists of the Formosa Quartet, flew to London to play two Formosa Quartet concerts. Because our cellist & violist had previous conflicts and a paternity leave, respectively, we were joined by subs Richard Lester and Roger Chase. It was an extra-marital affair which our Formosa spouses, Debbie and Cheyen, fully consented to and even facilitated. 

What happened in London the next 8 days, however, really should stay in London. Even if your spouses allow you a fling with someone else, they usually don’t want to hear about how spectacular it was. But for the sake of documentation, otherwise known as the magnetic force of truth, we feel compelled to confess all. Fingers crossed that our spouses will never read it.

We'd been looking forward to the experience months beforehand, having been long-time fans of Richard (Florestan Trio) and Roger (Nash Ensemble and Jasmine's old friend/colleague from Chicago). But nothing prepared us for the actual thing.

We gathered at Richard’s and after preliminaries began to play. It took a mere two measures in Beethoven 59 1 to illuminate the true meaning of dolce. And the sforzandos... were played with a sound that, until then, had existed only in our realm of perfect forms. 

By the end of the first movement, we were smitten. By the last rehearsal a week later, Wayne would lean to Jasmine several times to whisper “Can we keep them?” — to which she could only gleefully, wistfully smile. 
 
Perhaps, to demonstrate a sense of decorum, we should nip this blog here. But since Debbie and Cheyen don't seem to be looking, we'll indulge in a few more details.
       
  *    *    *        

We lunch at Richard’s on soup he's made and a pineapple he cuts. He and Roger describe how they cut a mango. Roger: “I make a lattice.” Richard: “Do you ever make hedgehog mangos?” 

Can we keep them?
 

How is it we've latticed / hedgehogged our whole mango lives without knowing it?

How is it we've latticed / hedgehogged our whole mango lives without knowing it?


Roger stops playing many times in one passage because he's not matching Richard’s bowing. Every time the bowing is the least bit different, he's in shambles, reminding us of the princess in The Princess and The Pea. Finally Richard: “Does it really matter?” Roger, writing in the correct bowing once and for all: “Yes, it does! You've no idea what kind of crescendo is going to happen now!”

Can we keep them?
 

Princess and Pea. What can be better than a dashing English violist with fairy-tale sensitivity?

Princess and Pea. What can be better than a dashing English violist with fairy-tale sensitivity?


Roger to Richard: "Are you just being excessively cautious there in that entrance?"
Richard, to us: "That means, Why the fuck were you late?"
Roger, to us: "Didn't you know the English invented passive aggressiveness?" 

Can we keep them?

 

For Roger's guitar strums in Hungarian Folk Songs, Richard suggests, "How about doing it like you're wanking?” Did we hear that correctly? And is he really making accompanying gestures as he's saying that?

Roger: "Why does an Irishman need 2 condoms?" 
(with Irish accent) “To be sure, to be sure."

Richard says of a large colleague that she needs to buy “an extra seat for her breasts”. 

In one phrase we daringly tell Roger to be "less flaccid”. After 5 seconds of impassiveness he says, “What’s the difference between an eskimo and a eunuch?”, then virtuosically rattles off this linguistic string:

       “An eskimo is a frigid midget with a rigid digit, and a eunuch is a placid vassal with a flaccid tassel.”

Can we keep them?
 

eskimo

eskimo

eunuch-about-to-be

eunuch-about-to-be

 

When we play Grappelli, Richard makes an extraordinary sound. It's as if he’s picked up the whole room and set it down again, a dozen yards away. Where did that come from? 

Can we keep them?

 

Richard cheek-kisses Jasmine after the concert. When she apologizes for being sweaty, he says, "I like the taste of salt".

On the train Roger and we co-compose a poem in iambic tetrameter. Roger’s lines contain the words "he's a poof!" and "piddling purse".

Can we keep them?

 

Roger inputting his lines

Roger inputting his lines


Our concert at Mill Hill Music Club is among the most magical we can remember playing. It's experiences like this that make life worth living and, once they've happened, make us unable to remember what life before them was like.

 

How lucky can a quartet violinist get?

How lucky can a quartet violinist get?

Can we keep — 

Er — that is — keep them as page turners to irreplaceables Debbie and Cheyen, ahem.

Do we feel guilty featuring a liaison, and hankering for the perpetuation of its delights, on a website that publicizes and promotes our marriage? Yes yes of course. We'll wrap up — after we share one more memory.

During a conversation about spouses (literal ones), we asked Roger and Richard what the secret to a successful marriage was. They said, "Marrying the right person — or not marrying the wrong person". 

We think we Formosa-married the right people. How do we know? Well, for one thing, we will methodically lattice and hedgehog anyone who engages in even the most piddling string-quartet behavior with Debbie and Cheyen. To you irresistible violinists out there: don't give it a wanking thought.


 

They're not for sale either.

They're not for sale either.