“Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A rainy day is a good place to start this episode. Water is so fundamental yet powerful with regards to life. “April showers, bring May flowers,” but in more traditional contexts, water is related to emotive forces and feeling. One of my early attractions to Japanese culture was the idealistic relationship and integration with nature, and Nodame Cantabile showcases a healthy amount of the natural world throughout. I do not mean to insist the story is ripe with natural symbolism outside it’s convenient placement, but rain feeds the flowers and the flowers hope to bloom. Similarly, Milch stirs emotions this episode which will enable Chiaki to discover more within his cold, mechanical self.
Milch’s challenge to Chiaki occurs in a few different forms. First, Milch attempts to rebuild bonds with the S-Oke as if he had not wronged them. His shifty ways raise question to his authenticity among Chiaki and Mine, but Chiaki believes Milch to be Strezemann. Chiaki’s confidence in Milch is so eager to grow but immediately stunted when Elise appears and intends to bring Milch back to Europe.
Without a mentor, Chiaki must again question his position or his identity, a thought I like to entertain. He cannot become a conductor as his circumstance becomes more uncertain. Milch challenges Chiaki by returning only to have him play a concerto under the maestro.
“You are a student from the Piano Division.
What’s wrong with playing the piano?” – Maestro
Milch’s excellent scheme drives the episode towards one of the most famed segments in which Chiaki performs Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, a piece which is both complex and emotionally exhausting.
Strezemann’s goal is to bring about a heightened state of emotion in Chiaki to which the feelings of loss and longing will be most apparent. Rach’s concerto requires such a great amount passion of the spirit and for the moment. Milch burns the idea of expression into Chiaki with hopes that he will emanate a lavish interpretation of the music.
“Use your whole body more to express music!”
“But I’m not that type of person…”
Chiaki continually practices, reflecting on the instruction and searching to understand Milch’s desire. And we see glimpses where Chiaki may not break free of his own mechanics.
The timeliness of Milch’s words before the concert are what ultimately transform Chiaki as he is informed that the concert will be their final act together. Chiaki did not realize what he had been prepared for: the performance, sentiment, and passionate feeling for the present. But he appreciates the music and approaches it honestly. The future nostalgia is in the distance, but it’s realized how this event will be a memory for all time.
“I don’t like the fact, that it will be over soon…”
The Tin Woodman finds his heart. It is a crucial step for Chiaki in becoming a more robust person, accompanied by fantastic music. Milch proves to be more than a maestro of music, conducting not only the orchestra but also the emotive forces within Chiaki. It’s such a great episode.
Nodame staring up at the moon after Chiaki’s performance also carries a natural symbolism. Watching from afar but not yet reaching for the moon. She also holds Milch’s pocket watch, and there is a sense that she needs to act before time ticks away. Nodame’s conflict is beginning, Kiyora and Mine’s gears are turning. Meanwhile, Sakura looks completely adorable in that pink hair bow.
Rachmaninoff’s 2nd is a truly beautiful and mesmerizing piece in full glory. I believe the drama-cut took a majority from the Moderato movement and finsihed with Allegro while removing Adagio completely. I have always found the second movement, Adagio sostenuto, the most romantic and painful of the three due to the closing melody’s low-strung dissonance. I highly recommend listening to the movement with Chiaki and Milch in mind to better understand the breadth of emotion these characters were dealing with.