Monday, January 31, 2011

A Cozy Winter Meal

Welcome back 

Dear Readers,

Dear Friends.

It was a cold wintry afternoon,

and we were 

tired and hungry.

And I knew precisely 

what my friends 

and I needed.

Perhaps you can guess?

Yes, that's right.

A warm 

nurturing meal. 


I grabbed my baking pan

and turned the oven to 350 degrees. 

Into the pan went a few duck legs, that I drizzled 

with olive oil and aceto moscato. 

I sprinkled them with 

sea salt and pepper. 

Threw in

 a halved head of garlic,

a couple star anise,

cinnamon sticks,

and a generous handful of prunes. 

I covered the baking dish

and into the oven this went 

for 1 1/2 hours. 

The house began to smell wonderful

and when the time came,

I uncovered the dish,

and added a couple quartered Bosc Pears. 

Back into a 400 degree oven this went, 

uncovered for another 20 - 30 minutes. 

Could this have been any easier,

or more delicious?

Served on a 

bed of couscous with a

2008 Arterberry Maresh Pinot Noir, Maresh Vineyard

Wine Advocate - Even better is the 2008 Pinot Noir Maresh Vineyard, sourced from 40-year-old vines. Dense ruby red in color, it offers up a sensual perfume suggesting that much more is to come. Asian spices, incense, rose petal, black cherry, and black raspberry aromas lead to a loaded, focused, and impeccably balanced, seamless Pinot...

my friends and I 
warmed to a stunning glow and couldn't have been happier.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mary, Mary, quite contrary...

Welcome back Dear Readers.

Riddle me this...

What do 

the painter 

Georgia O'Keefe,


Louisa May Alcott, 


Charles Darwin,

and author

Frank McCourt,

have in common?

They all suffered from,

but survived,


One brilliant artist 

who wasn't so lucky...

the very talented 

young composer

Guillaume Lekeu,

whose birthday we celebrate today.

He died 

one day after his 24th birthday

in 1894. 

Born January 20, 1870 

in Belgium,

and later moving to Paris,

Lekeu studied with 

Cesar Franck

and Vincent d"Indy.

Lekeu wrote a number of wonderful pieces,

and in 1891

won a second Second

Prix de Rome.

I stumbled upon Lekeu's works

many, many 

years ago. 

The first recording that I picked up was 

by Quatuor Kandinsky.

It paired 

the Chausson Piano Quartet in A Major, Op. 30



Quatour Inacheve
Dans un emportemente douloureux

A number of fine recordings of his works 

have become available in recent years,

including this one of the 

Violin Sonata in G

 that he wrote for Ysaye,

a recording of his award winning 

cantata Andromede,

music for

Piano Trio,

and for

Piano Quartet.

You will enjoy paying tribute 

to this fine young composer.

Make a point 

of exploring the works 

of this great talent,

who left us 

way too soon.

Happy Birthday Guillaume!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

One of My Favorite Recordings of 2010

Social Realism



can be awfully sad. 

Consider all the depictions

of a

"sick child"

that we have seen over the years. 

And now in the theaters

we can watch 

Nicole Kidman 

in Rabbit Hole


"focuses on a grieving couple
eight months after their young son was killed by a car
while chasing his dog into the street."


Lars von Trier's



a DVD I could not finish,

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe,

also attempt to

deal with their

young son's death.

How sad that

we are focused on this

terrible subject.

That said,

tragedy can inspire great Art,

and that is the case with

 one of my favorite recent recordings. 

On October 7, 2007

Kenny Werner's 


was killed 

in a car accident. 

One of the ways Kenny tried to deal with this 

was by writing a poem

that then became

his brilliant

five-movement work

No Beginning No End.

"The score was radically revised in 2009 and included sections for brass, strings, and percussion. It was recorded by a 37-piece ensemble and his piano. Vocalist Judi Silvano and saxophonist Joe Lovano overdubbed their parts onto the finished work. The poem that serves the root of this piece is gorgeously delivered, one note per word by Silvano. That note becomes the root on whichthe ensemble plays Werner's composition, and for Lovano's and Werner's improvisations. Elements of classical music -- Western and Indian -- dialogue seamlessly with jazz and structured improvisation for nearly 50 minutes, creating a work of transcendent spiritual beauty. It ends not with a conclusion, but an introduction to something beyond the confines of the work itself. In addition to "No Beginning No End" (comprised of five separate titles), there are three other pieces written related to it: "Visitation: Waves of Unborn" is a wordless a cappella for a 36-member choir that deals harmonically with the idea of music not as a noun but as a presence created by the souls dwelling between death and rebirth in the bardo. "Cry Out" was written as a simple, direct, and deeply emotive piece for a string quartet. Less than seven minutes in length, it is nonetheless one of the most memorable works Werner has ever composed; its entwining lyric lines willhaunt the listener long after it ends. "Coda" closes the disc; a spacious yet flowing six-and-a-half improvisation for piano, marimba, vibraphone, and harp, based in the E Mixolydian scale. Taken as a whole, No Beginning No End is a work for which there is no comparison, and few referents. Born of grief, it reflects only beauty, poetic and profound; it is Werner's master work." 

This is thoughtful,



with great writing 

and ensemble playing.

Do not miss this.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My First Music of The New Year - A Dream of Love

Dear Friends,

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year to all!

I'm hoping that your New Year 

is filled with great Music, Art, Cuisine, 

friends and family. 

When I awoke this morning 

I had the gorgeous songs of Gabriel Faure in my head. 

One of the first songs that I heard 

in this New Year of ours was 

Reve d'amour 

sung by Dame Janet Baker 

with pianist Geoffrey Parsons. 

A sweet start to the New Year. 

Reve d'amour

If it is a nice lawn
That sky sprinkles
Where to be born in all seasons
Some flowers bloom,
Where we gather by the handful
Lily, honeysuckle and jasmine
I want to make the path

Where your foot lands.
If there is one well within magnet
Which has the honor,
Whose tender devotion
Has nothing morose
If ever in this noble
Fighting for a worthy purpose,
I want to make the cushion
Where your brow arises.

If it is a dream of love
Fragrant pink
Where one finds every day
Some sweet thing
A dream that God blesses,
Where the soul is united to the soul,
Oh, I want to make the nest
Where your heart arises