Culture, III

After my recent concert-going fiasco with Gamma (she has announced she never wants to go to another concert with me) I was relieved last night to see that 1) the bar was open again and 2)there were no bicycle wheels on stage, but rather an ondes martenot, the name of which sounds like a small animal you trap in winter and make jackets out of, but which has a beautiful sound.

I had a  martini while waiting for my wife to arrive. I ordered a gin martini, because sometimes if you just order martini here, you get the vermouth rather than the drink. There is less danger of that at this particular hotel bar, but I wanted to be on the safe side. The waiter asked me if I wanted it with or without ice. I ordered it with ice.  I imagined there would be a few cubes, but they were real generous with the ice. It also came with three olives, and a tray of peanuts, smoked almonds and wasabi almonds. Although I know that bar nuts are a hygenic disaster, I cannot resist them and always polish them off.

My wife had a non-alcoholic drink, and we shared a pair of frankfurters, eating them with our hands.

About the concert – I bought a program this time. The Klangforum Wien performed, I’m really liking this subscription we have and the relatively new music we are seeing, my wife less so although it varies. She liked Toru Takemitsu, for example, and many others. This time, Emilio Pomárico conducted and Marisol Montalvo, an American soprano, sang. Works by André Jolivet, Karol Szymanowski, Nikolai Obukhov and Isang Yun were performed.

Marisol Montalvo, the Klangforum Wien are always great, but Marisol Montalvo was the high point for us. Beautiful, expressive voice, great personality, wonderful. Nikolai Obukhov is a Russian composer with an interesting biography who composed impossible pieces (his main work, “le Livre de Vie” has vanished, he claimed he was robbed, the only surviving part had vocal parts that were impossible for a single person to sing and, oh yeah, called for the construction of a special cathedral to perform it in) but Montalvo managed well.

Despite the martini, I didn’t fall asleep until the final piece, “Pièce concertante” by Isang Yun, who once composed an opera on the floor of his prison cell while being tortured by South Korean intelligence, which had kidnapped him from Germany because they thought he was spying for the North.

PS Thomas Bloch rocked the ondes martenot.