'Would you be free for dinner?'

An evening with John le Carré
by
March 2021, no. 429

'Would you be free for dinner?'

An evening with John le Carré
by
March 2021, no. 429

The voice on the telephone, not brusque or curt, came straight to the point. ‘How long are you in London for? And would you be free for dinner this Friday?’

Spoiler and shame-faced name-dropping alert: it was Alfred Brendel, sometime in 1983. I had first met him in Auckland in 1971, after a rehearsal of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto, a work he performed more than fifty times in public before his retirement in 2008. I managed to catch what I think was his final one, in Edinburgh, and I must bashfully confess that I found it as impenetrable as I did when I first heard it.

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