Roving Masters of Music
The Case Files of Kazusa
Great Classics Investigator
Roving Masters of Music
The Case Files of Kazusa, Great Classics Investigator
Chapter 1: The Missing Score
White Album 2: Post-Setsuna’s Ending
Editing: Rurou no Gakushidan
“God. I’m about to flip my lid with this guy.”
The terrace of a hotel on the banks of the Potomac.
She flung her copy of the Washington Post down onto the breakfast table, between her French toast and latte.
I picked it up, opening it to the Arts section.
There, I found the reviews of her daytime concert from the day before, at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater.
“This looks excellent, though. You’ve got a perfect storm of rave reviews from every critic… Encore aside.”
“Exactly. Look at the last critic’s comment, in particular.”
“’Yesterday’s concert showcased a phenomenal balance of her peerlessly perfect technique, blazing passion, and occasional glimpses of melancholy through the gaps. However, we still have yet to see her at her peak. Just how far will she continue pushing on? Only time will tell,’ it says. Yes, it’s a little condescending, as usual, but it seems positive to me.”
“…You didn’t have to translate it for me,” she muttered, a touch of pink coming into her cheeks. “Yeah, okay, it was a high rating. The arrogance of his phrasing pisses me off, but I’ll live. It’s what comes after that.”
“’The second encore piece, Xenakis’s Herma, was, shall we say, an unexpected present. Listening to contemporary classical music requires a certain amount of mental preparation. To dash cold water over an entire audience of patrons who have been lulled into dreamy satisfaction by the preceding performance is the sort of childish prank that would be better leashed. She is old enough to know better.’ Pff… Ahaha! Yes, that conclusion is very him.”
“What the hell does he mean, ‘old enough’? He’s pushing thirty, just like me. And the sheer overreach of him shoving his way in among legitimate music critics when he doesn’t have one iota of musical talent is just… mind-boggling.”
“Everyone must have realized that when it comes to writing about you in global media, no one has better information than Senpai does.”
“Hmph. How long does he intend to keep making money off of me?” she said, looking away.
Her long, abundant black hair fluttered as she moved.
Though she griped, the look on her face was far from displeased. In fact, she seemed rather to be enjoying herself.
Evidently, however, she was not finished complaining.
“And what’s the deal, coming all the way to the concert and then not bothering to visit backstage? Did it not occur to him that that might put a crack in our friendship?”
So that was what was bothering her.
“Well, he was in a hurry. He couldn’t help that.”
This always happened when there wasn’t much to say.
“He’s probably having breakfast in Vienna right now.”
“When did he start listening to Xenakis, though?”
A smile tugged at her lips. Her profile was, as ever, bewitchingly beautiful.
Whenever the conversation turned to Kitahara-senpai, this was exactly the formula: while her words and attitude were prickly, that rosy blush always came into her cheeks in the end.
Her name was Kazusa Touma.
These days, she was one of the leading pianists in Japan—no, in the world.
At present, she was in the midst of a North American tour.
While she had settled upon Japan as her dwelling place at the wishes of her ailing mother, Europe and North America remained her principal battlefields. And so, every year from spring to summer, she went on tour. In between, she performed with various famous orchestras and recorded.
Her CDs and high-res recordings met with top-of-the-line demand for the genre.
She lacked nothing in ability. She reached fourth place in a competition run by the person who had been called “The Poet of Piano,” second place in that of an exemplary Russian composer. Her frustration at failing to reach the top led her to polish that which was already polished, bringing her technique to a sheen that was acknowledged as the best in the modern world, and very few pianists could match her when it came to playing passionate or lyrical pieces.
As for her few weak points, there were the occasional flickers of moodiness and caprice that she inherited from her mother, and her extreme hatred of the mass media, which she never shied from expressing in the strongest terms.
Of course, tickets for her concerts sold out the moment they went on sale, around the world. Her fans were countless.
There were also a certain number of people who, despite not being fans of classical music in general, would always buy her CDs, simply because they were hers.
Those whose hearts had been stolen by this mysterious beauty.
Her long, double-edged eyes, her straight nose, her lips that, while on the thin side, excited a certain intellectual desire.
Her figure, which any Hollywood actress would envy—well-shaped, voluptuous breasts, a firm waist, a tight, gently-sloping bottom.
And that beguiling jet-black hair, taken right from the book of the yamato nadeshiko ideal, falling straight down her graceful back like a waterfall…
Her previous record, released in a limited quantity of a thousand copies, sold out in moments. The image of her printed on the large-size jacket, smiling, garbed in a deep indigo kimono patterned with fluttering weeping cherry petals, was worthy of hanging on any wall. Even fans without a record player had bought it, and it was still fetching bids of more than ten times its original price in auctions.
Even the wealthy patrons eating their breakfast here at the Hyatt House, male and female, young and old, were distracted, continually sending little glances her way.
Yes, with this personification of ultimate Eastern beauty (with something Slavic mixed in, contrasting with my own smoother face) sitting right here, in a sleeveless knee-length dress with a pattern of purple flowers, her shapely shoulders bared, her beautiful legs crossed, elegantly sipping at her latte, it was only natural that one should be captivated.
Even if that latte had had six sugar cubes dropped into it.
Still, she and I were accustomed to this state of things now.
Not that I was accustomed to her beauty. I wasn’t sure I ever would be.
“By the way, miss Manager. What’s the schedule for today?”
“As you know, your two-month North American tour will come to an end with your next performance, in Philadelphia, but that is ten days away. The next several days are free time for you, Kazusa-san.”
“As for today, there’s not anything in particular in the morning, and in the evening you’ll be rehearsing in the studio.”
“Nothing in particular, huh.”
She looked a little downcast.
“That idiot… Could have stayed for breakfast, at least…”
“You know that wouldn’t have been possible. It wouldn’t have been convenient.”
She was the one who had gotten him the job.
She knew that.
Not that I couldn’t understand how she felt.
And, seeing such a desolate, lonely look on her face on his account—well, my past affection for him notwithstanding, it made me want to tear him apart.
After some further brooding, she spoke again.
“Guess I’ll just loaf around the hotel room, then.”
Oh, there it was. The song of the shut-in.
“There may not be much time, but we could visit the Lincoln Memorial, or—”
“Nah. I don’t care about statues of old guys.”
Referring to one of the Founding Fathers as an ‘old guy’? Oh, dear.
“How about a walk around Georgetown, then? The atmosphere is supposed to be lovely there.”
“You can find streets with ‘lovely atmospheres’ anywhere.”
“I understand there’s a nice macaron place in the area.”
Her ears perked right up. You could practically see dog ears sprouting from the top of her head.
She was so, so easy to win over with sweets.
“Right, we’re going! Lead the way, Koharu-chan.”