Wow. Just... wow.
I taught myself the most basic parts of playing the piano before finally getting lessons when I was 13 or so. I quit two years later, because school was eating my soul, but I do miss it. I was still on my learning books and the teensiest of non-book excerpts, so I was never at the level Tracey and Theodore (and evidently you) are at, but I really liked the whole feel of this piece. The music, the characterizations, the style.
Including the mixed up timeline. I'll admit, I didn't pay attention to the Roman numerals at first, but that was my fault and I understood my mistake almost immediately. But I do feel like it added something to the piece; like it's an echo of Theodore's frustration, and even Tracey's frustration. What got to me wasn't when they were in his hospital room, or even when she brought the records (I do love how they use gramophones, by the way), but the later sections. As in the party, because I completely expected her to play for him. That she didn't really surprised me, and I like being surprised. In hindsight, the refusal seems more in line with her character than I thought at first, but still... the connection! The music! And yet, their relationship, as it developed in the later years, was built on their not having had a real relationship before. They were partners and practiced together, no more.
The ending surprised me, too. Not necessarily that Theodore married someone else, because that followed from the previous section, but the way Tracey handled. And, really, the way Theodore handled it. I almost can't believe that he asked her to play at his wedding because I didn't peg him as so... I don't want to say cruel or vindictive, but I thought he knew better. I always had the impression that he knew what Tracey could end up meaning to him, what significance she could have had if she chose it. Or was his insistence on incorporating the music more important? I'm not sure, and I like how I'm still wondering about it.
And the line you used for your summary - thunderstorms, explosions, Beethoven's tantrums - is stunning. If Jo hadn't told me this was where I could find your Theodore, that line would have pulled me in immediately. But I am glad I finally found this fic. It was a pleasure to read.
Author's Response: That's always a good opener to read on a review :')
Piano is a bit of a stress, yes. I've only been playing for eight years - barely any time compared to the others in my A Level Music class - and I've already given up taking grade exams because the whole thing was a bit of a stressfest. I really only play for a hobby and for my A Level these days and I still find it quite hard. I'm nowhere near the level I wrote Theodore at - I'm more of a Tracey, I'm better at composing and listening when it comes to music - but some of the pieces I play are some of the ones I namedropped in here ^^ It made it easier to write, knowing what it was like to play them.
The mixed up timeline is something I've considered changing (I actually do have a new version in the works) because I felt it read more like a series of little stories and not one big story and the flow was quite disrupted. I actually started by writing the battle scene, then the end scenes, then filled in the other bits. From the off I just had this idea about a pianist with immense talent who found he couldn't play anymore who had some sort of relationship with another musician of lesser talent who could still play. Strange plot bunny, yes ^^ But, I am a great lover of angst and unhappy endings, so also from the off I'd decided that this wouldn't have a happy ending. So, no, Tracey didn't play for him. This is something I wrote a fair few months ago so I'm not sure I remember what I felt when I was writing it, but I think she probably felt inferior in the face of someone so talented. She was inferior to him, really, when it came to music, but it wouldn't have mattered if it wasn't for her nerves. One thing I'm trying to fix in the new version is putting some more depth into their characters. Well, I say new version, but it's technically a different story with the same sort of theme.
But yes, in the end, their relationship was effectively of two people who just practiced together. I think you nailed that there, that's a good way of putting it (:
I think I wrote in that ending thinking that, from the characters' point of view, that Theodore never really got what Tracey felt about him and what meaning it would have for her - I think he saw her as more of a good friend. That's why I want to make the characters deeper in the new version - maybe show that he's more wrapped up in music and doesn't pay much attention to the people around him. As for her reaction...nerves, I suppose. That's my excuse for her. All those feelings of inferiority and such. Actually, this ending had about three rewrites. First time round she was the bride. Second time round she played perfectly. This, I suppose, was the third. I don't really know why I changed it so much. My love of unhappy endings? Probably! (:
That was a long response! Anyway, thank you very much for the review. It was very well thought out - reviews like this really mean a lot to me and I'm very glad you enjoyed it. (: Thanks again!