Friday, March 25, 2011

Porcini secchi "Extra"

Now that Dan Johnson,music critique "heroique" here in NH, has dubbed me unsung genius and mycophile I thought I had better post something about funghi real quick so as to not lose my myco cred.
A year ago the topic was mushrooms in a vinegar setting--my wife Veronica had brought back from Slovenia a jar of pickled mushrooms.This year, on her trip to Trieste, she returned with two bags of Porcini Secchi "Extra". Dried boletes. Much better than the pickled kind; the aroma alone when you open the bag is worth the airfare to Italy! After a few weeks in a jar I took a whif this morning and got another powerful hit. I cant wait to actually cook them (maybe this weekend, a nice risotto?)
But what, I want to know, does "Extra" mean? According to Veronica, the Triestean purveyor of the woodsy treasures assured her that they were "best quality"--top of the line so to speak. Maybe it has something to do with size--they are big, some of them.
I'll report back on their "Extra"-ness after we've actually eaten some.

The other excitement around here was last night when Timo Andres played my piano piece, Authentic Presence, on a New music New haven concert at Sprague Hall. Timo played the pants off the things. It was dazzling, but even better, it was soulful.
It was a truly "extra" performance.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Winter that Refuses to Die

March Fourth and still a good foot of snow covers our back yard! Its a hard, crusty, icy mantle. We've had snow cover steady since Christmas. January was the big snow fall month and February was just plain cold so nothing melted much. Our roof sprang a few leaks, and our heating bill went through the same roof. Huge mountains of plowed snow decorate our streets, but these ungainly sculptures, now soot black, do little to elevate our spirits or arouse our aesthetic libido.
I've had my x-c skis in the back of the car but haven't used them in over a month as this hard old stuff doesn not invite trespass by foot or ski. Frustrating to say the least because it LOOKS so inviting from a distance.

In my class at Yale, ("Minimalism: Before, During and After") we have just listened to John Adams Harmonium. I am amazed at how powerful and full of expressive grace it is after all these thirty some years. Sure, it has an abundance of exurberance--maybe a bit too much--but it really holds up. Those cowbells at the end of the second movement haunt and remind me of a September night in the Sierran cabin when we were awakened by faint clangings, distant harbingers of summer's end (the bovine migration from the high country).h

News, news news!!
But the big Adamsian event was, of course, the Met's production of Nixon In China.We were fortunate to be able to attend the dress rehearsal and had great seats just six rows back from the pit. I am not an opera fan and I doubt that many contemporary operas will still be around in the next fifty years or so, but I have a feeling that Nixon will, if only because there's so much damned good music in it! A week after seeing the performance live, I was able to see it again in so called HD transmission in Yale's Sprague Hall. This was overwhelming and brought you into the opera more than the live performance. It was thoroughly captivating. Jame Madalena does a remarkable job with Nixon's character and has been doing so all over the world in the last 25 years. His voice seems a bit strained now, and he on occasion misses a high note or two, but his dramatic power is flawless; he really owns that character.
Dramatically I've always found the enigmatic last act weak, but it doesn't pull down the rest of the work; it is what it is and as such is unique and probably will be around for a long time.