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Showing posts from March, 2011

Greens serves up super greens in San Francisco

It's apparently well-known to the locals. Greens is in one of the rejuvenated warehouses in Fort Mason on the other side of Fisherman's Wharf. Annie Somerville uses the most local, fresh and where possible organic ingredients to concoct lots of delicious vegetarian dishes. There were no nut-roast or big bowls of lentils - all the dishes celebrated vegetables as they were. There were lots of good flavours - the seasonal asparagus were great, the potato cakes were really wholesome, and the salads were amazing.

BTW the view looking out to the Bay was spectacular at sunset.

Blomstedt conducts the San Francisco Symphony in Tchaikovsky and Sibelius 

The soloist Yundi was an up and coming star in the piano world until Lang Lang came along and stole the limelight. So it was a delight to get a chance to listen to Yundi play Tchaikovsky piano concerto no 1. The opening movement had a certain briskness to it. Yundi's long phrases were punctuated by percussive interjections from the brass section of the orchestra. Apart from a few slips, this movement was well played. The second movement had an unsteady start - with Yundi pushing for a brisker tempo than what the orchestra was prepared to give - so the first few phrases rocked a little. But everyone was soon back in "concert". The last movement was probably the best - the orchestra kept pace with the soloist. The fiendishly difficult cadenza gave Yundi the opportunity to show off his virtuosity - fingers flying cross the keyboard.

The second half of the concert was Sibelius second symphony. This gave me the real opportunity to hear the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra at …

The new sculpture garden at SFMOMA

Nice nosh at Nopi

It is the latest addition to the Ottolenghi stable of eateries. Unlike the other cafe cum food emporia, Nopi is a proper sit down restaurant - with a clean white and brass colour scheme. The menu, as one would expect, offers a range of flavour rich dishes. I sampled quite a few (the benefit of eating with a large group) - the Japanese aubergine was very succulent, the slow cooked pig cheeks were great and the prawns with feta cheese was full of flavours. I also and the chocolate cake (flour less) and that was yum. I went there with friends who brought their kids, and the staff were super nice to them. The convenient location is likely to attract a steady stream of shoppers who fancy a decent bite eat.

An evening of cosmic music with the LPO

The first item of this concert was Brett Dean's Komarov's Fall. I thought it was entertaining - that the violins imitated the bleeping sounds inside the space capsule, and the "panic" in the control room, and the fateful fall. No doubt it's a good piece to introduce to young kids with astronomy / astrophysics aspirations. And this formed a not-too-demanding opener of this concert with Marin Alsop conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

This was followed by John Adams Doctor Atomic Symphony. Having seen the opera quite recently at the English National Opera, I was intrigued by how this might sound - and whether it conveys the full range of emotions. On balance it was an atmospheric work - and the famous aria sung by Oppenheimer was carried over as a trumpet solo. It worked I thought. And the LPO played beautifully under Marin Alsop's direction.

The final item was Gustav Holst's The Planet Suite. So often one hears bits of it on the radio. And one i…

Aida revived at the Royal Opera, with distractions

I went to the latest revival of Aida at the Royal Opera last night. Act 1 got off to a rocky start as Carlo Ventre was finding his place on the large set and stage. Celeste Aida ended in thunder, rather than tenderness as the love aria demanded. Olga Borodina returned to this production as the bold and vengeful Amneris - great voice with clarity. Liudmyla Monastyrska was the not-so-last-minute cast change to replace the pregnant Micaela Carosi as Aida. She was not bad - slightly on the uncertain side in Act 1 but gradually gained strength.
Act 2 had probably too much going on. While David McVicar's production delivered the "grand opera" feel - the thumping, slapping and lashing of the dancers coupled with blood and nakedness meant one finds it hard to focus on the music. Though visually stunning. And I was not sure why there weren't any singing slaves: the chorus members were "priests" and the actors and acrobats were "slaves" with their mouths sh…