Classical musicians are trained in the art of silent communication. Practiced musicians
know to look for a breath, a lean, a nod to stay in sync.
Some have an easier time matching fingers and wavelengths. For the piano-playing
duo Misha and Cipa Dichter, being married has them finishing each other's thoughts
both on and off stage.
That's the only explanation for what happened at one of their concerts.
"I wasn't thrilled with what was going on," says Misha. "I made no gesture; I was just
thinking negative thoughts." Cipa whispered in his ear, "Stop it." She just knew, as one often does after knowing someone intimately for four decades.
That unspoken intuition about each other contributes to their seamless virtuoso-style
duo performances. Performing together since 1972, they continue their legacy
performing with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra this week.
The Dichters will perform Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos, a work with
endless French charm and a "potpourri of styles," Misha says.
Of the two, Misha has more notoriety as a pianist. A Juilliard graduate, he's the silver medal winner of the 1966 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow, only four years after Van Cliburn swept the competition away from the Russians. The event similarly launched Misha's career.
However, his career - and more - was put on hold in 2007 while he battled
Dupuytren's contracture, a genetic disease that rendered his right hand curled up and
unusable. A newly released injection treatment was a few years too late for him.
Instead, he had a last option, controversial surgery that worked.
Now he says he's "the happiest pianist on the planet." He has been playing in
Rochester since the 1960s, most recently performing with the RPO last year.
Cipa, as some reviewers have noted, does not have the solo career of Misha, but may
be the stronger player. She is known as much for her technique as for her sensitivity as an artist, a complement to Misha's easy virtuosity.