Rosa and Gillian were the best basso continuo team in the business. Two accompanying musicians more in sync were impossible to find. In addition, Rosa knew how to sit calmly at her harpsichord and slip in the surest direction behind the backs of the biggest egos among leaders and soloists. Gillian laid down a viola da gamba line with balls. The male members joked about looking behind the instrument to see if there really were only boobs there. But they knew what a crack in the chops they would get from Rosa if they tried.
Everyone knew that the couple vibrated as one bowed string. They believed the rumors about both of them straddling the sounding instruments to get their clits twanging. And they knew enough to stand out of the way after a performance had been particularly good. Being mowed down by Gillian's hard gamba case in their hurry to get home and rip off their clothes to celebrate was not at all a pleasant experience.
The Ensemble Trois Siècles was their main group, but they were as much eaters of music as eaters of each other, always ready to take on a new group, time and transport for the harpsichord permitting. It never tired them. It just seemed to feed the libido.
Then there was that day when that new guest leader came along. The violinist invited at the last minute to take the place of the star flute player's violinist husband while he was having his appendix out. The half-pint sparkplug who said baroque wasn't her usual thing but she liked to branch out. She laughed, shook her bushy hair out of her eyes, and did a burn-up of a Brandenburg. Too much swing to please most of the group. They waited for their harpsichordist to set things straight, but the chick had absolutely no contradiction. Rosa barely looked at her score. So did Gillian.
The guest did her quick gig and left, and the group lost its fire. Rosa let the leaders lead, and their egos led the group through more wayward, shifting rubato than Chopin's complete works contain.
Gillian's tone lost its ring; the musicians complained that she had become a magician, sawing the instrument in half. There was no sync at all any more to the continuo, sunk in a continuous vicious circle of cold shoulders and heated cat-hiss exchanges. If Rosa was going to bust chops, they risked being Gillian's.
The day Rosa stomped out of the concert hall alone, they all knew that they would be advertising for a new team.
They say Rosa's switched to piano, only plays contemporary, works in small ensembles, chases around the country to work with the bushy-haired half-pint.
Gillian is saving up to buy a new gamba to replace the one she broke over Rosa's head. She has one on loan for now. She paid a high security deposit for it.
published 4 January 2012