Thursday, October 27, 2005

Musical Evening

I met up with Miss S at Piccadilly, and of course where does one go to dinner from there? Chinatown, of course (ton yan gai, in case any of you had forgotten).
We ate at a neat little place on Gerrard St with a name like Ikkyu or something. They do Japanese, Thai and Dim Sum. So S ordered tempura prawn and aubergine with soy sauce and rice, and I ordered Thai chilli prawn in a basil sauce with two strings of green peppercorns, which are not piquant and taste rather like juniper berries.

On the side we ordered salmon skin and tempura sushi - this was deelish.
And an experimental Thai starter: pomelo*, a prawn, roasted peanuts, and a tasty sauce on a fragrant leaf which you wrap and eat. Alone, the leaf tasted like something between basil and soap but combined with the filling it was quite something else.
Messy! But yummy!

* Pomelo is an ugly green-skinned citrus fruit with mild pinkish large-grained flesh.


Miss S has joined a Japanese-European dating agency. I am excited because on Saturday she is lunching with a half-French, half-English doctor who is doing his residency in Newcastle.


Then we were on our way to the recital, but hold on! We had to run back to the restaurant to pick up the bag I'd forgotten, in which S had returned my book on the Wilton Diptych and my Tears CD.
Then we went to the Club, ordered some drinks at the bar, and found our seats in the Drawing Room.

It was one of those typical salon recitals harking back to earlier times. There were chairs, bergeres, a couple of sofas, all fanned out around the grand piano. The walls were red (used to be a nice Wedgewood blue until the renovation this year), lined with bookshelves, and the rest of the space was filled with portraits, landscapes and engravings hanging on brass chains from the brass picture rails. An intimate atmosphere was set using scattered floor lamps and lots of candles on every table.

Our pianist was Ronan Magill, who studied under Yehudi Menuhin and Benjamin Britten and has performed on the BBC and with the Royal Philharmonic, etc.
1) Two delightfully playful sonatas by Scarlatti - coincidentally he was in today's Sidebar birthday.
2) A few brooding preludes by Warlock, based on English folktunes. I thought they contained undertones of American blues.
3) A wild and tuneless suite by Bartok.
4) A pleasant mazurka by Chopin (though I prefer his preludes, etudes and nocturnes)
5) The "Waldstein" Sonata (no. 21 in C maj.) by y beloved Beethoven. I love the beautiful 3rd movement. It is once again clear to me why young girls were not allowed to listen to his music; call me biased, but my soul was stirred more than it should have been.
6) And for his encore he played more Beethoven, assumed we'd know what it is, and now I can't find it in my library...and having listened to a few tracks I've forgotten it...

I thought the Yamaha piano (or Mr Magill) lacked definition in some of the heavier sections of the Beethoven sonata.
But I am not here to critique the evening, only to report it ;)

I really really miss playing the piano, and my dear Kimball has been sold. I used to practice in the soundproof rooms at St Thomas, and in fact haven't attended any small performances since I used to go to lunchtime recitals in the music building.
Surprisingly, I found my right foot twitching every time I expected Mr Magill to depress the sostenuto pedal.
One day, I hope, I will once again be able to immerse myself in the poetry of Chopin and the power of Beethoven.


Jia Li said...

I never knew you played, I tried it but was bored rather quickly

Olivia said...

Jia - your personality fits another instrument, the piano takes patience. Perhaps the guitar, it's more free and versatile.

merserene said...

Ah, another similarity! I played the piano for about 10 years. Love the way it sounds but always too lazy to practice. Voice lessons were much more my thing but as a kid, I didn't get to pick what lessons I wanted.

Pomelos are delicious fruits in and of themselves. The Chinese eat them often in autumn. The rind is a chore to cut and peel, but the meat is juicy and sweet. The fact you can't really get good ones in the States makes me miss them terribly.

Olivia said...

Merserene - I played for 10 years too! Also too lazy to practice, but when I got my fave pieces down, that was IT. They come back like riding a bicycle.

Singing for me is easier, but I never took lessons. I wish I had. Only thing is, for some reason I sing like a choirboy; I have no vibrato.

Girl, you live in the wrong state! It was in the US that I discovered pomelos. I used to think the Mexicans ate them as they were in lots of grocery stores in those neighbourhoods, but then Dallas and Houston have huge Asian communities and countless authentic grocery stores; in fact a part of downtown H has street signs in Vietnamese. We'd always get treats like lychee jelly shots (now banned as a choking hazard), water coconut, tamarind in sugar and chilli, jackfruit chips, preserved plums, hawberry wafer, Japanese flower candies, fresh blue crabs, mangoes, oh all sorts of things!

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merserene said...

That's what you get here - street signs in various languages if you're in the right community. :) L.A. and S.F. have huge Chinese/Asian populations also (can't remember if the largest or second largest in the US, but definitely top 3), thus one can get pretty much everything, but the soil just isn't quite right for growing some of the exotic Asian fruits. Even if they get imported, they just don't taste as good, you know?

It's also been about 10 years since I last played piano. I'm so rusty it comes back like a rusty bicycle and not very pleasant! But I agree on playing favorite pieces. I only took voice lessons for several months before my parents abruptly stopped them. Really miss those. If only I have the time and money; otherwise it's the shower. :)

Rebecca said...

Oh, I love the mazurka. There's a great song from my grandmother's dasys:
E la mazurka, che ballava la mia nonna,
cone le trecce ciondolone con i mutandoni fuori dalla gonna.
I giovincelli, di vent'anni o poco piu,
quant'eran belli, coi baffoni a pelo in su.

And that was all in a foreign language. Enjoy

Olivia said...

Merserene - haha, the shower ;)
I've stopped singing in the shower, it's too close to the outer wall and my housemates will hear me!

Rebecca - OK, ho uno dizionario italiano. It is a weird little verse...

JP said...

Pomelo was one of the best things about Thai food. But when we had it the flesh was more whitish. It wasn't very tart like a grapefruit at all. I was just missing it the other day.

What is that dating agency, do they only hook up Europeans with Japanese?

Olivia said...

JP - it is more whitish than pinkish, always yum. You wouldn't happen to know the name of the leaf wrap, would you?

I don't know the name of the agency, but yes they only match Europeans with Japanese. It's obviously very exclusive, otherwise S wouldn't do it.

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