Le Bell Canto by June LeBell

Classical music vs. Classic food

Posted August 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

by June LeBell

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Can't figure out which is giving us more pleasure in Santa Fe - the music or the food.

Sunday evening we went to a chamber music concert at the truly elegant Lensic Performing Arts Center. It looks like a grand old movie house but they've done wonderful things with the stage, incorporating a wooden shell and what look to be adjustable ceiling panels, lighting that would serve everything from concerts to operas and even a small pit. I didn't ask but I'd guess it seats around 600 in the orchestra and balcony, combined. Ed thinks more.

The program featured two works in E-flat: Mozart's Piano Quartet number 2, K.493, and Mendelssohn's stirring Octet, his Opus 20, written when he was just 17. In the middle was Schoenberg's First Chamber Symphony in E - a richly textured romantic piece that could be dense and difficult in the wrong hands but, with NY Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert leading a group of exceptional chamber musicians, it was crystal clear and greatly accessible..

A little Mahler Eighth struck me in the first and last sections, and Straussian (Richard) harmonies were evident in its motifs - along with the duck's theme from Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf."

The Mendelssohn, always a favorite, may have been a little pushed at times with a few, um, improvised notes, but it was one of the most well-conceived and exciting performances I've ever heard. And, with a cast that included a pair of GilbertsAlan, Jennifer — the Guarneri Quartet — Arnold Steinhardt, John Dalley, Michael Tree and Peter Wiley -— and some great musical friends — Harvey de Souza and Eric Kim — it was breathtaking just watching, no less hearing! I mean, when was the last time you saw Alan Gilbert with a bow rather than baton in his hand?

As great as that concert was, the dining gave it a run for its money.

That night we ate in the Coyote Cafe. Romantic, sleek and beautiful, the food (and drinks) were as sensuous as the Mendelssohn Octet.

Last night, after a special brunch for Friends and Alumni of the Curtis Institute (more about that tomorrow; it deserves a blog of its own...), we went to Luminaria one of the most romantic restaurants I know.

We sat outside on a candle-lit terrace, had perfectly prepared drinks (an absolutely "arid" Tanqueray martini for Ed and a yummy Grey Goose pear vodka on the rocks for moi), and positiely cooed over the paella which had a grilled jalapeno pepper the size of my fist.

Today we lunched at The Compound, a restaurant on Canyon Road that we stumbled on last year and made a reservation for this year. Their stacked salad - - chopped lettuces, ham, cheeses, hard boiled eggs and a rich and zesty dressing that never overpowered the main ingredients, served on a crispy corn tortilla - - was so mouth watering, I'm drooling just writing about it.

Tonight we're off to the opera where we'll have a pre-performance dinner, lecture by our new-found friend, Desiree Mays, and then a performance of the rarely-done "Maometto II" by Rossini.

We'll tell you about that and that Curtis brunch tomorrow.


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