Checking out the Condoleeza Rice Brahms recital clip at Buckingham Palace, one had to cast the mind back an awful long time to fathom when a serving officer of the US government last performed a piece of music before a reigning British monarch.
I guess President Truman, a decent piano player, might have done had he ever been given the royal command, but other than Harry – and his daughter, Margaret, who played professionally (but not very capably) before taking to writing crime fiction – I can’t think of any Washington insider who could have given as good account of themselves in music as Condi did this week.
So let’s hear it one last time for Ms Rice, and let’s remember that whatever her successor achieves at the State Department, there is no way Hillary is going to beat this feat.
What did Her Maj make of it? Impossible to tell. But the little bit of the Brahms quintet that has been released for public viewing is stiff and over-cautious, perhaps because Condi is glued to the page and making no eye contact with the string quartet, comprising London Symphony Orchestra members, led by Luise Shackleton, who is married to the British Foreign Secretary, David Milliband.
As a diplomatic event, it was in a class of its own. As a musical experience, a little more rehearsal might have helped. With time on her hands after January 09, Condi would certainly be welcome on the chamber circuit. Next stop, Wigmore Hall?