Friday, December 12, 2008

Volume 1 - 12/14/2008 - 12/20/2008 -

Paris - Vienna - Tokyo -

By any chance are you heading to the City of Lights this week? If so are you in luck! If you are smart you will head over to Salle Pleyel for the premier of a Violin Concerto written by a brilliant young composer. Wednesday night at 8:00 Finnish maverick Esa Pekka Salonen will be leading violinist Janine Jansen and the Orchestre de Paris in this new work by Richard Dubugnon. Who is Monsieur Dubugnon you may ask? My answer in short... a composer who you'll want to get to know and whose works you will really enjoy hearing. Le Figaro called this Swiss-French composer the son of Ravel and Prokofiev. Listening to him the other day his music seemed like the natural continuation of the works of Ravel, Debussy, Faure, etc... Dubugnon is also a Double Bass virtuouso who writes for many different ensembles from orchestra to solo piano to chamber pieces. He has studied in all the right places and is being championed by all the right people. I cannot tell you how much I wish I could be there for this important musical event! In 2004 his Arcanes Symphonique (Symphonic Tarot Cards) was performed in Dallas to fine reviews. Scott Cantrel of The Dallas Morning News wrote "Music harkens back to Debussy." "This score grows audibly out of the brightly colored orchestra traditions of Debussy and Ravel, with updated influences from some newer French composers. This unashamedly sensuous music , often delicately textured and tinted, it's structures related to the five tarot cards illustrated." Monsieur Dubugnon has recorded a number of works in recent years and Arcanes Symphonique was just released in November. Dubugnon's Piano Quartet, his homage to Faure, can be found on a fine Naxos recording. And I for one cannot wait for releases of his works for Voice and Orchestra, and Voice and Piano. This young composer, born in 1968, has already created quite an ouevre of things all French no less. Quelle plaisir.

And there's more?! Why yes! After intermission Salonen will lead a very large L'Orchestre in the original 1880's version of Mahler's cantata Das Klagende Lied (Song of Lamentation) . Revisions in the years that followed reduced the number of harp players, vocal soloists, and removed an off stage orchestra. It will be a thrill to see what Salonen does with this. It should prove to be a spectacular evening all around. The concert will be repeated Thursday.

Salle Pleyel is located at: 252, rue du faubourg Saint-Honore, 75008 Paris.
Phone number: +33 (0) 1 42 56 13 13

For a quick bite head into their restaurant for a Cafe Salle Pleyel Burger. Made with coriander, sun dried tomatoes, capers, cornichons, and tarragon, and topped with a ribbon or two of parmesan, this is fine art as well.

If you have a bit more time to dine, hop in a taxi and zip on down to Le Timbre, near the Luxembourg Gardens, to see how well a chap from Manchester can do in this culinary mecca। Food authority Patricia Wells was greeted with a nice glass of sauvignon blanc and "adored the ham and lentil salad, a warm curried beet soup with a dollop of creme fraiche, and plump seared and roasted pigeon." I had a delicious and not trop chere dinner there as well. Call in advance.

Le Timbre is located at: 3 Rue Sainte Beuve, Paris 6
Phone number: 01 45 49 10 40

Up next, a cozy fete on a wintry day, in a city that has been the birthplace of so much great Art and Thought. We're off to Vienna, a city I have enjoyed visiting a number of times this time of year, to celebrate what would have been the 80th birthday on December 15 of the world famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. While Erik Satie owned and sported seven identical grey velvet suits, Hundertwasser who follows in the tradition of Schiele and Klimt, traveled the world in his black boat with a black cat and a black bird. His paintings, prints, buildings, and urban designs are however chock full of color. Bright reds, greens, yellows, and swirls of gold etc... frequently filling his palette. The last time I was in Vienna the city was blanketed with snow, and there I was standing amidst all Hundertwasser's beauty in the KunstHaus Wien, the building that he designed to house his collection. It was a lovely experience, and this is where I'd return to honor this great man, who is "buried in harmony with nature on his land in New Zealand, in the Garden of the Happy Deads, under a tulip tree." For this special occassion KunstHaus Wien is presenting "The Unknown Hundertwasser," a show that includes many rare works from private collections that are not often shown. How lucky to be able to view this! Being there for Hundertwasser's birthday is a must for anyone in, around or heading to Vienna. My visits to this wonderful place have always been terribly special.

KunstHaus Wien is located at: Unterre Weissgerberstrasse 13 Vienna A-1030
Phonenumber: +43 (0)1 712 0495

You will no doubt want to pick up goodies of Hundertwasser's while you are there. The prints, books, and even the scarves are great. I am also quite fond of Hundertwasser stamps and a commemorative stamp has been produced.

If you can't find the stamps in the shop you may want to try:
If after all this Art , your appetite has grown, no need to worry. Vienna is filled with many wonderful places to eat. My first stop for a lovely dinner would be Steirereck. The food, wine, (and oh yes the) cheese cart, and ambience there spectacular. Here's a sample menu I know I'd like:

Pan Fried Foie Gras with Cox-Orange, Apple, and Wild Marjoram

Crayfish with Parsnip - Custard Strudel & Limes

Pheasant with Chervil Roots Charlotte, Pear and Cornel Cherries

Organic Camembert
from Styria with Quinces, Black Currant, Candida & Smoked Sage

Warm Trinitario Chocolate
with Pinneapple-Pericon Sorbet & Coconut Macaroons

Partagas D4, Cuba
with Oban 14 year Highland Single Malt Whiskey

Location: Steirereck in the Stadtpark A-1030 Vienna
Telephone: +43 (1) 713 31 68

For a cozy, old world meal, (can you spell Schnitzel?) in a hundreds year old inn, do not miss: Griechenbeisl - Fleischmarkt 11
Telephone: 533 19 77

And lastly, when in Vienna you must visit the first Konditerai which was founded in 1786. Demel has the most beautiful pastries, candies (a Hundertwasser Collection) and cafe fare. I can smell the coffee and almost taste the schlag.
Location: Kohlmarkt 14 in front of the Hofburg Palace

My last entry, for this inaugural edition of Global Around Town, takes us to the Land of the Rising Sun. To Tokyo, a city I am dying to explore. Design savy travelers and residents alike will not want to miss this 30 year retrospective of a man who worked as a truck driver and then a Boxer, before becoming a self taught architect.

Pritzker award winning architect Tadeo Ando is known for his caste in place concrete buildings that exist in harmony in their settings and take advantage of the settings natural light. I love his works and wish I could be there for this important show. I hope you can make it to:

Tadeo Ando "Challenges: Faithful to the Basis."
Location: Gallerie Ma
TOTO Nogizaka bldg. 3F
1-24-3 Minami-aoyama, Minato-ku
Tokyo, 107-0062 JAPAN
Telephone: 81-3-3402-1010