Friday, October 31, 2008

Mahler V at Carnegie Hall...

...on Monday I night got taken to Carnegie Hall by honorary-ex-wife Susan, to hear James Conlon conduct the Juilliard Orchestra in a program of extravagantly proportioned symphonic works.
Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony followed intermission, and I was very impressed by the passionate rendering of the first two movements,
Trauermarsch and II Stürmisch Bewegt. Very exciting stuff. And then movement III Scherzo fell flat on its Allerwertesten, which I thought was the conductor’s fault more than it was the orchestra’s... it just didn’t swing, and a Ländler’s got to ought to swing... Movement IV Adagietto was pristinely beautiful, and it was perhaps just an illusion from sitting in the orchestra section of Carnegie that made the harps sound a little too loud... Personal triumph for me was that I didn’t think of Dirk Bogarde dying on the beach until after I was out of the concert... Movement V Rondo got run a bit ragged by a band that was slightly beat, although it remained stirring and proud.
All in all I found Conlon at the bat to feel a bit foursquare, but I will take any opportunity to hear this music. It remains complex and challenging to players and interpreters at one hundred years of age, reveals its depths in no hurry over the decades I’ve had it in my life, and reminds one that the listener has responsibilities as well.

a couple exceptional wines at Forge... had dinner down in Tribeca with the lovely and companionable Cynthia Sexton on Wednesday night, enjoying the flavours of Marc Forgione, along with two bottles that weighed in somewhere between outstanding and
The first of these was my bright idea. Knowing that Cynthia willingly dines fizz-first I had already ordered a bottle of Pierre Moncuit Cuvée Delos, Grand Cru Mesnil by the time she got decanted out of her taxicab—this was a bottle that didn’t get hurried out of Champagne and shoved on to a boat, so in addition to the expected exuberance and depth, the lemon and grapefruit explosion, there were wonderful mineral tones, and an expansive body underneath with a bit of dough and satisfying yellow fruits. Deluscious by itself, it fared well alongside a slightly citric grilled octopus with various mushrooms and contrasting greens.
Our second bottle was chosen by sommelier Matthew Conway, who sympathised with a certain amount of indecision over what colour wine to drink with the combination of veal medallions and sweetbreads that we’d both ordered. We chose this special for all the wrong reasons, mainly that the chap who was sitting at the adjacent table when we arrived—who pitched his Blackberry to the floor via my lap as he was extricating himself from his seat— remarked in passing how much he hadn’t liked the veal medallions with sweetbreads—but I couldn’t help but notice that he was also slightly polluted (although in no way personally unpleasant) so perhaps not in the best shape to judge fine flavours... We consulted the server, asked her opinion, were given a most articulate defense of said menu item, and decided both to order this dish in solidarity with her and the house—whereby we indulged in a bit of contrariness with no victim, and were fed excellent veal as a result. So what to drink? Agonised over the ’90 Olga Raffault Chinon Picasses, but let Matthew choose, and were rewarded with his pick of a 2006 Mas Daumas Gassac blanc, which showed itself to be a totally splendid olofactorama... It got sloshed into a decanter and sat off ice on the table for the better part of an hour as the aromatix just continued to develop. Grown from various vines of viognier, chardonnay, chenin blanc and gros manseng, each whiff of the stuff out of big burgundy glasses ventured farther and farther off the beaten track—continuing the pineapple theme of the champagne, but reaching fuurther beyond into the realms of mango and candied peach... the wine’s presence on the palate was substantial without being heavy, showed a very nice and finely tuned texture.

Monday, October 27, 2008

the national pass-time...

in spite of the fact that it might get me accused of wanting to be on the side that’s winning, I shall go on record preferring the Phillies, for the sole reason that they are the only ball-club I know of that was named for a cigar. Also I very much like the fact that their pitcher hit a home-run last night...