Monday, May 15, 2017

Chinese Media Quiet About Putin's Surprise Performance on the State Guesthouse's Rather Out of Tune Piano

While waiting to meet China's president Xi Jinping, Russia's president Vladimir Putin played two pieces on a piano at the historic Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.


The performance was shared by a variety of news outlets, including Russian new outlets as in the above video posted on YouTube by the Russian government funded RT news. But The New York Times reported one notable set of news outlets declined highlighting the performance:
Chinese propaganda chiefs did not appear to be amused that Mr. Xi had been upstaged to some extent at his own conference, and the official Chinese news media pointedly made little mention of the piano performance.
After watching the video, I wasn't at all surprised by the lack of official Chinese commentary on Putin's musical display, though I am not sure Putin's performance potentially upstaging Xi was the only or even main issue. The Chinese propaganda chiefs had another reason to be concerned.

While the small grand piano may look great sitting in the large formal room, it is terribly out of tune. Presumably this is not due to poor tuning (I can't imagine a professional tuner leaving a piano in that state) but due to a lack of tuning. Perhaps it doesn't strongly jump out to many people. Any of the news articles I have read don't mention it at all. But the tuning should make any trained musician cringe. Back when I studied music performance at a conservatory, I wouldn't have even practiced with a piano in that condition. I can't imagine anybody would have.  Putin himself possibly knowingly reacts to an especially offending key early on (see the 11 sec mark in the above video) but continues on . . . diplomatically.

So it is very possible, in fact I hope likely, that some relevant people on the Chinese side recognized they essentially invited the President of Russia to play on a piano in a condition not fit for a middle school performance. While they may not have been sure how many people would notice, they wouldn't want to drawing any attention to the fact that some things are not as harmonious as they may appear.

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