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Showing posts from November, 2007

Sakenohana brings honest Japanese to London

Located adjacent to the Economist Building, Sakenohana opens its doors this week serving Kaiseki cooking. Apart from tempura fish and vegetable, all the dishes are authentic using lots of real Japanese ingredients (I'd dread to think what's the carbon footprint). Yam with fish eggs, slow cooked yellow tail tuna and fried rice balls in dashi fish stock all tasted real and honest. The deco had a peculiar combination of Japanese tatami with Nordic wood fixtures.

There is no omakase yet, but that would be a nice addition to a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

The exuberant Lang Lang at the Royal Festival Hall, London

Lang Lang (郎朗) opened his concert at the Royal Festival Hall with Mozart's piano sonata K 333. He played it with much fluidity, though I was not sure whether it was Lang Lang or Mozart that I was listening to. His playing of Schumann's Fantasie in C was captivating - with longing pensive moments (at least for a 25 year old).


The second half of the concert began with him describing the few Chinese works that we was going to play. It was nice to see such a young performer at ease on stage not performing but talking to the audience. These pieces were playful yet evocative of Chinese (taking a broader sense as he made a point to describe the west Chinese origin of one of the pieces) poetic and instrumental colours. These were followed by a stylistic playing of a Granados. We were then thrown into the complex Wagnerian world with Liszt's transcription of Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde - Lang Lang was able to sustain a rich and complex orchestral sound taking us through to t…

An unexpectingly decent Canteen at the Royal Festival Hall

It was the London Jazz Festival and there was much happening at the South Bank Centre last night. I was with a friend and we didn't warm to the kind of rapping jazz that they were playing so we thought it was a good idea to eat. Rather than popping down riverside, we went to the rearside to try out Canteen.

The backless chairs and chunky wooden tables gave the place a distintively Nordic feel. The food was decidedly English fayre - pies and roast aplenty. I had a chicken pie followed by an apple crumble. It was surprisingly good and there was a distinctly clean taste. The waiter explained to us the most ingredients were locally sourced.

A witty L'elisir d'amore, Royal Opera

Having just seen the Ring, it's a big mind shift to go to L'elisir d'amore at the Royal Opera tonight - with no gods, semi-gods, superheroes, etc. - it turned out to be an evening of light-hearted entertainment - nothing too demanding. Aleksandra Kurzak gave a superb performance with wonderful coloratura and witty acting as Adina. Her opposite number Stefano Secco gave a convincingly mad and idiotic portrayal of the love sick Nemorino. The production was clever with bails of hay giving a lot of visual interest. Mikko Franck conducted the band with much needed steadiness.


Coming to an end with Götterdämmerung (Royal Opera)

The three norns in the prologue were fantastic - who told the "story so far" with mysticism and conviction. The opening love duet between Siegfried (John Treleaven) and Brünnhilde (Lisa Gasteen) was almost good as both were fresh voiced at the start of the opera. Kurt Rydl's Hagen had bite and evil - perfect for the character. Gunther (Peter Coleman-Wright) and Gutrune (Emily Magee) were good as supporting characters. The chorus was a much welcome addition to Act II with the wedding procession. The whole thing dipped a bit in the second half of Act II and the beginning of Act III - was it the pitch of the tempi, the poor string ensemble in the orchestra or the wayward brass section? The audience laughed at the horrendous entry of the horns at the beginning of Act III - I guess it was a funny way to say "you have had a long evening, but don't relax too much". The whole cast rose to the challenge for this final act of the last opera in the Ring. Lisa Gasteen&…