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New York, Act 2, Scene 5

March 6, 2013

The small and narrow restaurant smells exactly the way an Italian restaurnat should; olive oil, fresh-baked bread, tomatoes, oregano and garlic. Servers clad in simple black and white line the wall and greet us, “bon giorna”. Over a carafe of chianti we peruse the offerings on the men. After a lengthy deliberation, John and I order lobster smothered in a creamy red sauce to share. Shell-less and succulent, a perfect heaping mound, it is the best lobster I ever tasted, and I put Basso56 at 234 W.56th St. on our forever list.

To those of my generation, Carnegie Hall is the epitome, the highest level a performer can attain in America. Perhaps the hall is a bit seedy with age, surrounded by scaffolding and large temporary signs. Tonight features the Oberlin Orchestra, Raphael Jimenez, conductor, and Jeremy Denk piano, with Pulitizer prize winner composer Christopher Rouse.

The preconcert lecture and discussion examines how Oberlin College is forging the future in music. The audience is mainly Oberlin alumni, supporters and friends who already know,”Oberlin has an outstanding music program.”  Tonight they will not be disappointed.

Kevin Grasel, my grandson, is listed in the horn section of the program with an R and Ro, indicating he will be featured in the first number, Ravel’s La valse, and the third piece, Rouse’s Iscariot. Peter Denk lifts the audience to inspired heights with his performance of Mozart’s Piano Conceerto #21 in C major. His mannerisms, head lifted, eyes closed, hands gracefully waving at shoulder level, indicate he is one with the awesome sound. Christopher Rouse receives a standing ovation for his contemporary Iscariot. Personally, I find it loud and objectionable, glad that Kevin had earlier found ear-plugs. Beth says I’d get used to it and even like it after hearing it a few times. Kevin’s part departs with no notice from me sitting in the fourth row, well below the stage. The last piece is Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird. I close my eyes and sink into more familiar strains. The audience rises in appreciation.

to be contd.


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