Deveau-ted Friends

Thanks to the Jewish New Year–can you believe it’s already 5777?–today was a rare midweek day off for the Boston Symphony. I celebrated by having lunch with a dear colleague who I hadn’t seen for far too long.

David Deveau is a highly acclaimed concert pianist, professor at MIT, and until recently stepping down, artistic director of the Rockport (MA) Chamber Music Festival. We’d been good friends when I lived in Boston but had only been on each others’ peripheral vision for decades. It was only by happy accident that we’ve touched base again.

David Deveau

David Deveau

I’m currently working intensely on my Danse Macabre audiobook, and I desperately needed some excerpts from the fourth movement variations of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet for a critical moment in the plot. My own former quartet, the Abramyan String Quartet, had never recorded it. Unlike many other quintets, the “Trout” is absent a second violin; in its stead is the string bass. I asked a bunch of my string bass friends if they had recorded it, but I came up with blanks. So I went to that last refuge of the desperate researcher, YouTube, hoping to find a recording that included a colleague who I could beg for permission to use a minute or two of the music.

Eureka! Or maybe not eureka. I did discover a performance that included several of my Boston Symphony colleagues–Elita Kang, Jonathan Chu, Owen Young, Tom van Dyck, and David Deveau on piano–from the 2014 Rockport Festival. However, what was indicated as movement four was in reality, movement five–not the variations movement. Bummer! But it’s an understandable error, as most chamber music compositions have four movements, so whoever uploaded the performance assumed movement four was the finale. So I was still stuck. Only partially daunted, I emailed Elita, who had just finished the BSO Tanglewood season with me and was now vacationing in Iceland, to find out if she might have the audio file of the variations, and if so could she give me permission to use it.

Elita Kang

Elita Kang

Elita graciously took a moment out of her glacier hiking to email me that I’d be welcome to use it, but she didn’t have the file. She directed me to David. Though I was reluctant to make such a bold request of someone I hadn’t seen for so long, I figured the worst he could say is to get lost.

Amazingly, David responded to my email within hours! (That’s what real friends do, by the way.) Yes, I could use the file AND he would have his recording engineer send it to me! Cloud Nine–wherever that is. I was in business, and you’ll hear bits of the their wonderful performance of the “Trout” when the Danse Macabre audiobook is released later this fall.

But the best part is that David and I reconnected, set up a time to get together, and today we had lunch at Santouka, a great new ramen shop on Hereford Street. We talked old times and new times between slurps, and promised not to let years go by until the next time–maybe we’ll even perform together. Something to look forward to.





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