Wednesday, June 27, 2012

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

One thing tonight's concert proved definitively: the SFS Chorus is in as good hands with Ragnar Bohlin as it was with its previous director, Vance George. Not only did the chorus fairly stride over the orchestra in the bombastic chaos of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", but they also sang the rhythmically and intonationally treacherous Lux aeterna of Ligeti with care and precision, and the same eerie tone you remember from hearing this work during the trip over the lunar surface to TMA-1 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. (As this is an acappella work, Bohlin conducted; MTT did the rest.)

I also liked the bass-baritone in the Beethoven, Nathan Berg. More a bass than a baritone, he spat out the lower-lying parts of his solos with vigor. As for the rest of the Ninth, MTT led a particularly beauteous slow movement, usually the weak link in the chain, with lyric line and a little bounce in the violin decorations on the repeats of the theme.

The Ninth isn't quite long enough to make a concert by itself, so there's always the question of what will go in a miniature first half to fill up the space. It's often something choral, since you've got the chorus for the evening anyway; in this case it was Lux aeterna and Schoenberg's A Survivor from Warsaw, a collection of pontillistic hoohah in the orchestra over which a narrator intones a tale of Nazi brutalism in the ghetto, concluding with the victims suddenly breaking out in the Sh'ma, the basic and fundamental Jewish prayer. At which point a men's chorus in the back does exactly that, though not to any liturgical melody I've ever heard the Sh'ma sung to.

The idea that these pieces, modern classics though they're both said to be, and mercifully brief as they both are, have any business breathing the same air as Beethoven is ludicrous, but one thing they do show is the variety of styles that modernist nonsense can be written in, as Ligeti's nonsense sounds totally unlike Schoenberg's nonsense. If forced to choose my poison, I'll pick Ligeti. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron

Reports are coming across the series of tubes that Nora Ephron has died.

She was a good writer. She could make me enjoy reading about things I had no interest in, like her neck, or that I violently disagreed with. Virtually nothing that Harry says in When Harry Met Sally about The Way Men Are is true of me. But I enjoyed the movie anyway.

Nora Ephron also wrote the greatest concluding paragraph to an essay ever. I'd use this as my sig file, if I had the nerve, or if I had a sig file:

I have thought about their remarks, tried to put myself in their place, considered their point of view. I think they are full of shit.
ETA: Nora Ephron, stand-up comedian, in praise of Meryl Streep

Monday, June 25, 2012

what I learned at a funeral

I attended a funeral this morning, a Catholic funeral. It was for ... let's see how I fit in here ... my brother-in-law's mother-in-law, that's it. I've been to these before, but not without B; she went to the pre-funeral stuff last night, and is at work today, so I went representing both of us.

Mrs. C. was 90, and I learned from the handout at the funeral and the photo display at the reception a lot about her life before and outside the family gatherings at which I'd known her over the last 25 years. One thing I had not known was that she was working at my high school at the time I was attending it. She was the health nurse, her daughter told me. I don't recall ever having to go to the nurse in high school, but I must have met her at some point. I pulled out my old yearbook when I got home, and yep, there her picture is on the staff page. Whaddaya know.

Aside from that, the first time I met her was when B. took me to a Christmas party at Mr. & Mrs. C.'s house on an early date. They presided with placidity over a lot of 5-year-old grandchildren running around. (All now adults, and at the funeral, of course.)

She grew up in the Mission District before WW2. (It must have been a very different place then.) She worked as a secretary for the military during the war, and later for a famous economist. She met her husband at a dance. (I met B. at a dance.) They raised seven children. (The six still living were the pallbearers.) It was a good life, and she knew it, and we celebrated it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

concert review: Garden of Memory

This year's visit to the annual Garden of Memory walk-through concert at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland was not as entirely satisfactory as it usually is. Start with the fact that everyone was late, including me. I went immediately to the Morgan Chapel where Amy X. Neuburg and Paul Dresher hang out in alternating sets, only to discover they weren't even scheduled to start until 6, an hour into the four-hour event. The main chapel was too crowded to get into, so I took my walk through the maze of tiny rooms, niches, corridors, uneven surfaces, and stairs - lots of tiny staircases - in the rest of the labyrinthine building where the ambient musicians hang out, hobbled somewhat by my determination that, after an unfortunate previous experience, I'm not going through there without my cane again; and hobbled also by the fact that I didn't hear much, as many of them weren't set up yet.

Back to the Morgan chapel at 6 to find that sound-checks were still going on into the indefinite future, setup having been delayed by a late-afternoon funeral (well, yes, those will occur here). So, back to the main chapel to hear a percussion ensemble called Falkortet that wasn't even on the performer roster, not a patch on William Winant (to whom they dedicated one of their pieces) but pretty good, to be followed by the Del Sol String Quartet except they weren't there, having been delayed in traffic.

When I finally caught Del Sol for their scheduled second set, they performed three pieces before hitting on a minimalist composition not so rigid that they could do justice to it - I didn't catch the composer's name but they say it'll be on an upcoming CD - and it was righteous. So was the Cornelius Cardew Choir, in one of the upper niches, performing Oliveros' Heart Chant with audience participation again, this time sounding more like Ligeti than Todd Barton. The retro-big band Orchestra Nostalgico, outside on the upper landing on a cold and blustery day, as if this were Seattle, seemed a little underpowered this year, and Amy X., when I finally heard her, was having more trouble than ever with her looping machine, requiring three tries to get through her most standard number, "Life Stepped In." But the Paul Dresher/Joel Davel semi-improv was particularly good this year.

Best of all was the last set before closing in the main chapel, by the 8-woman choir Kitka, performing folk songs from Georgia* and Bulgaria. Nasal, lots of stark open intervals, even sounds of goose honking that came out beautiful, a mesmerizing and enriching final experience.

Seen among the niches and conversed with: the Tall Black Woman and the Tall White Woman.

*Which Georgia did you think I meant, before you saw what followed it?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

movies: two Shakespeare, two Tudor

The Tempest, directed by Julie Taymor. Ursula Le Guin was bothered by changing Prospero to a woman. Not by Helen Mirren's acting - as Le Guin says, Mirren was excellent, in fact I'd say so much so that she made everybody else in the cast look bad, whether they actually were or not - but that the alteration of the premise of the text made it a different play.

I agree with Le Guin: it is a different play, and in more ways than might be immediately apparent. But that doesn't bother me so much. The dynamic with adapting something that's already in dramatic form is different from that of adapting a novel, and in any case there are plenty of other more "faithful" versions of The Tempest around.

There is, however, a difference between just making the actor a woman and actually tinkering with the text, and here they did both. Part of the problem with what Le Guin says of the actors not getting the beat of the poetry comes from lines being mangled out of their verse shape to fit the revised premise. Most changed was the narration of the backstory, in which Prospera, as she's called, was deposed from Milan not just for being distracted and unworldly, but because her wizardly studies laid her open to charges of witchcraft.

Then we almost immediately turn to the account of Sycorax - who is a witch - and you think, hey, maybe she's being libeled too, this time by Prospera. Or does Taymor want you to think that? Nothing more is made of the point.

The visuals were gorgeous and imaginative as you expect in a Taymor movie, filmed in Hawaiian primordial landscapes, and with surreal sfx to depict Ariel. But it seemed separate, not organic to the conception, and nothing else was done with the play than changing Prospero's sex. In particular the scenes of the various shipwrecked parties wandering around lost didn't gel. I didn't believe in them, and I didn't believe they were lost. In a Taymor movie I expect something more fundamentally weird than that, and in the past I've always gotten it.

On the other hand, there's ...

Coriolanus, directed by (and starring) Ralph Fiennes. Comparing The Tempest to this shows how much Taymor did do right. The problem with this Coriolanus is that the setting and visual style are so relentlessly up-to-now - the battle scenes are Bosnian street fighting, and the video is what you see on the news - that all it made me do is wonder, "Why are these people speaking Elizabethan verse?" It clashed, ludicrously. Taymor's Hawaii is unearthly; this is too quotidian. If you want to bring Shakespeare up to date, write your own play on the same theme, like West Side Story.

On to the Tudors.

The Tudors. I picked up a disc with the first three episodes of this miniseries at a Blockbuster clearance table for fifty cents. That's about what it's worth. Relentlessly political, with anachronistic references to a plan to establish the EU four centuries early (are they trying to be funny? because that's otherwise not the style at all) and it starts with the young Henry VIII already king, so a whole generation of Tudors is skipped. The opening scene shows an English ambassador to some Italian court being assassinated, and Henry is furious when he hears about this, because the ambassador was his uncle, and I was thinking, "What uncle?" Henry didn't have any living uncles; there had been two, but if you know anything about this period you should be able to figure out who they were and what happened to them. I haven't any books at hand that would reveal if the assassination story has any basis in fact at all, and I certainly can't be bothered to try to research it online.

Lady Jane, directed by Trevor Nunn. A 1986 movie I also picked up on the sales table. Starring, as Lady Jane Grey and her husband Guilford Dudley, two then young and unknown actors, Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes. I don't know what effect this part had on HBC's budding career, but I do know that it was on the basis of his performance as Guilford that Elwes was offered the job as Westley in The Princess Bride. Which is where I first saw him, and I then thought, "This guy is great! Where did he come from?" Well, this is where he came from.

A dim-witted and ahistorical movie. Claims that Jane was deposed for trying to be a 20th century social reformer in 1553, using ideas she'd picked up from Guilford, who had in turn apparently picked them up from carousing in taverns. Also stars the long-suffering Michael Hordern and the long-sufferable John Wood, but the best entrance comes with a loud group of people coming into a hall from hunting, among them Jane's booming father, the Duke of Suffolk. He removes his hat, and underneath is the shining pate of ... Patrick Stewart! This was in fact his last movie before taking on the role of Captain Picard, so it's classic Stewart, the more juicily so in that Suffolk is crass and stupid, just what Picard is not.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

concert review: Déjà vu, see: Déjà vu

Last week, my editors sent me to San José to review: a Sibelius symphony, a Rachmaninoff piano concerto played by a young Chinese pianist, and a delicate piece by the miniaturist Edvard Grieg. The encore was Shostakovich's arrangement of "Tea for Two."

This week, my editors sent me to San Francisco to review: a Sibelius symphony, a Rachmaninoff piano concerto played by a young Chinese pianist, and a delicate piece by the miniaturist Gabriel Fauré. The encore was Art Tatum's arrangement of "Tea for Two."

concert review: New Millennium Chamber Orchestra

Half an hour after KDFC flipped the switch on its new South Bay station, this new local non-pro band began its first concert, consisting of the kind of pieces that had occupied the placeholder tape that had been running on the radio the last few weeks, though I didn't hear any of these particular pieces there. There were three B's: Bach's Brandenburg No. 1, the biggest and most orchestral of the set; Beethoven's foreboding Egmont Overture; and Brahms's academic Haydn Variations. For lighter interludes, there were Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte, the first suite of Respighi's Renaissance-music-with-added-sugar Ancient Airs and Dances, and Copland's Variations on a Shaker Melody (the "Simple Gifts" part of Appalachian Spring.

The venue was the Trinity Presbyterian Church, perched on top of a hill somewhere in deepest San Carlos. I've been there before, for a Masterworks Chorale concert. The benches are uncomfortably hard, and the high-built wooden and plaster space with a wide transept gives an echoing acoustic, very forgiving for an amateur orchestra.

Which they found useful. A step below the Redwood Symphony, but above, say, the Mission Chamber Orchestra, in professional chops, the NMCO reminded me in quality of the defunct St. Peter's CO that used to play in these parts. (And a little research, had I time to dig it out, would reveal if any of the players were the same.) Wobbly intonation in all sections, yes, and ensemble liable to go shaky at times. Practice and experience will help with these, as it will with balance problems: the winds and brass tend to overwhelm the strings.

There were distinct virtues, also. Mostly together and able to express the feel of the music in solid, basic performance style, giving distinctly different tones from the weight of Beethoven and Bach on the one hand and the lightness of Ravel and Respighi on the other. The soloists from the orchestra in the Bach were consistently good. The Brahms began formally with separation rather than flow between the sections, but managed to build itself up into a grand and impressive conclusion. That was the last piece in the concert, and a good way to end.

Conductor James Richard Frieman, who looks rather as if he should be fronting a 70s retro rock band, kept the orchestra together, and gave brief talks about each piece before it began, suggesting that Ravel gave his Pavane its full title because he liked saying the words infante défunte.

A second concert will be held this fall sometime, but hasn't yet been scheduled. The bottom line is that, if you live in the area and want to hear some good music nearby, reasonably played, for not much money, NMCO is here.

One other thing I found that it has in common with the St. Peter's Chamber Orchestra's consistent practice is that the people at the table selling tickets have no idea if there is a comp list. But they are, likewise, friendly all the same.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


My anniversary present from B. came on a trip to the mall. We were driving back from elsewhere and decided to stop at West Valley on the grounds that if the thing that I wanted actually existed, it'd be at the Sharper Image store.

Well, West Valley no longer has a Sharper Image store. (It also seems to have lost the candy store that carried the one treat that I, not fond of most sugary stuff, like that nobody else does: chocolate-covered gummy bears.) But it does have a Brookstone and B. knew that that was a likely substitute.

What I got is called a key finder. It's a button-shaped item about an inch in diameter and close to half an inch thick, with a ring clip to fasten it to another ring. The point of this is that it comes with a large remote-control-like device, and if you press that device, the button beeps. That enables you to find it, and if it's attached to something that you keep misplacing, how useful that is.

As the name suggests, it's intended to go on a key ring. But I almost never misplace my keys - maybe half a dozen times in all my life - so I don't need it there. What I keep misplacing is my calendar/address book: what I'd use a PDA for if I had a PDA and weren't still wedded to a paper version.* I constantly need to check it when I'm various places around the house, and sometimes I leave it either intentionally or otherwise in my car, and I can never remember where I last had it, and it's deucedly hard to find on a quick glance.

This item has taught me that "It's always in the last place you look" is a false bromide. Sometimes it's in a place you previously looked, and you have to go back there two or three times before you can find it. Sometimes it's in no place at all, and you have to wait for it to show up later. This gets tiresome.

The address book is a tiny ring binder about 6 x 4 inches, and I can fasten the button to one of the rings. I hope it will stay on when I stuff the thing in my trouser pocket. I'm not happy that the button is so honking large - I was hoping for something more like a paste-on RFID chip - but it needs to beep and there's a huge button battery inside that's apparently necessary for that. So no attaching another one to my watch or my eyeglasses, which are the other items I spend the most time looking for.

So far the only time I've actually used the device is when the button slipped when I was trying to attach it and rolled under my desk where I couldn't find it. But patience; it will prove itself soon enough.

B. got the serpentine earrings we'd been admiring at the last local arts festival we attended.

*I have never seen a digital calendar app that's anywhere near as flexible or usable for my needs as a simple paper monthly grid is.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

let us now adjudicate great orchestras

One of the most charming features in the announcement of the San Francisco Symphony's centennial season was the comment that when you have a birthday, you invite your friends over to celebrate. So instead of disappearing off on a huge tour this year, SFS managed to acquire the other six leading U.S. orchestras as the principal guest ensembles giving concerts here this season, each under its current music director.

It's been traditional among music critics to identify a Big Five of U.S. orchestras, from east to west the Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony. This pantheon must date from after WW2, as Cleveland's rise to the highest status came with George Szell's appointment as music director in 1946. So the list is not set for all time, and it's occurred to me before now that in the last decade or two both the San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic have earned equivalent places. So the concert list of the old Big Five plus the LA Phil only surprised me in so openly confirming that evaluation. (Is this fair to Baltimore, Atlanta, St. Louis and others that have also done remarkable work in the same period? No.)

Of the six visiting orchestras, I'd heard both LA and Chicago at home, but none of the others. (I barely missed an opportunity to nab a ticket in Philly once, by mistaking the time of the concert.) Those two have also both been here before when I've been in the hall to hear them, but I don't recall any of the others. (I've heard all of them on recordings, of course.)

Well, I heard Philadelphia last night, and that concludes the set. So now that I've sampled all six in short order, how would I rank their performance quality on the basis of these concerts? Tough choice, actually. There's little to choose between the top three in those terms; they were all excellent, and it's more a choice among styles. I'd rank them

  1. Chicago (Riccardo Muti)
  2. Cleveland (Franz Welser-Möst)
  3. Philadelphia (Charles Dutoit)
  4. New York (Alan Gilbert)
  5. Los Angeles (Gustavo Dudamel)
  6. Boston (Ludovic Morlot)

That Boston lost its music director between the original announcement and the concerts, and was led by a former assistant instead, may have had something to do with its placement, but not entirely, because I've never been satisfied with them on recordings either. New York gets downgraded only because it took their Tchaikovsky a while to get its act together. As for LA, the one of the six I know best, it was just not their best night. I'm sure Dudamel can put more fire in Prokofiev than that.

Each orchestra gave two concerts on successive nights, and I attended the first one of each. Each orchestra was also asked to bring along a recently commissioned new work, and all but Philadelphia gave that work on the first night (Chicago and Cleveland had two each, one for each night), so I heard five of them. As compositions, they get definitively firm comparative rankings from me, thus:

  1. Enrico Chapela, Magnetar (LA)
  2. Mason Bates, Alternative Energy (Chicago)
  3. Magnus Lindberg, Piano Concerto No. 2 (NY)
  4. Philadelphia, for not playing one
  5. Kaija Saariaho, Orion (Cleveland)
  6. Elliott Carter, Flute Concerto (Boston)
So it seems we still have a bit of a ways to go in matching the esteem of contemporary composers with the quality of their work.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

concert review: Philadelphia Orchestra

The last of the visiting all-star orchestras at Davies this season, led by Charles Dutoit, who is titled Chief Conductor rather than Music Director. Whatever his title, he, and they, certainly deserved to be here.

This was the only one of these concerts I've attended that didn't feature a recently-commissioned work (they're playing one tomorrow, though). That may have been part of the reason the concert was so delectable, but not just because of the absence of a potentially dodgy new work, but because it left more room to play three works from the 1930s and 1940s, all of them written as shameless audience-pleasers, and all of them now firmly in the canon of masterworks of the last century. This is not what the avant-gardeists of the time had in mind as the legacy of their age, and a thumb 'o the nose in the eye to them.

It was not, however, a repertoire designed to emphasize the sumptuousness of the legendary Philadelphia Sound.

Ravel's Piano Concerto in G (originally the concert was listed with the other Ravel concerto, but I guess they changed their minds) with Louis Lortie, one concerto for which "tickling the ivories" is an accurate description of playing it, light and speedy with all the Gershwin cribs in the first movement plainly sticking out.

Hindemith's Weber Metamorphosis, exceedingly speedy - no breaks taken between movements - with the weight provided by a lot of grunting and growling from the winds and brass.

Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, more slowly, and with the pauses, but not as if Dutoit were trying to pile all the weight of Volkov's Testimony on it. This symphony is already heavy enough, so there was no added growling, but there was the dismaying sound of horn flubs in the first movement.

Encore, Glinka's Russlan and Ludmilla Overture. Dazzling enough for the role, but longer and more varied than the typical orchestral encore. Speedy again.

Throughout, the strings were strong and fairly deep-toned, but none of Stokowski's bowing tricks so there was nothing really startling or unique about it. The balance of the sections, with a particularly subdued percussion, oddly enough, was the most distinctive character.

I almost didn't make the concert, because had I been one second faster walking up to the intersection across the street from the auditorium, I would have been slammed into by the mad bicyclist - a common figure hereabouts, and recently the cause of several pedestrian deaths - riding full tilt up the sidewalk on the cross street through a fairly crowded pedestrian environment, mutually invisible through the stone building that formed the corner. And he wasn't even wearing spandex, so so much for that stereotype limitation.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

impending musics

Two cheering events coming up in the Peninsula/South Bay next week:

1. I don't know what happened to the last mid-Peninsula chamber orchestra - their website has gone dark - but there's a new one starting up. It's called The New Millennium Chamber Orchestra (perhaps an attempt to one-up the New Century Chamber Orchestra) and its first concert is next Friday, a week from tomorrow, at the Trinity Presbyterian Church at Alameda and Brittan in San Carlos - a venue I've been to before, a tiny church with hard benches but decent acoustics, certainly far better than the church the other orchestra used to play in.

Rather than a program of big heavyweights, it's playing a series of shorter pieces, but serious ones, the kind I like: a Brandenburg Concerto, the Egmont Overture, the Haydn Variations - those representing the Three B's - plus Ravel's Pavane, some of Respighi's luscious Renaissance arrangements, and the "Simple Gifts" part of Copland's Appalachian Spring.

I confess that I heard about this when they sent me a publicity e-mail, but it's an enticing program and I'd go anyway. We'll find out how they are. Volunteer and amateur groups run the gamut.

2. KDFC, slowly crawling back from the depths of self-degradation of its late commercial period, was playing Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" Quartet as I drove home a couple evenings ago, something they'd never have done in their squalor, and it was such a good performance (it turned out to be the Takacs) that I turned on the webcast to continue listening when I got home.

At which point I discovered from the website that they've finally gotten a South Bay signal. 104.9 it is, and it goes live on Saturday the 16th. A bigger surprise came when I went to set it up in my car radio the next morning. There was already classical music broadcasting, but not the KDFC signal. Listening to it off and on since, it appears to be a placeholder in the form of an endlessly looping tape, 3 hours or so in length, of famous light-classics, interleaved with various KDFC announcers telling you to watch this space until the switch gets pulled.

Anyway, I've now heard this placeholder between Palo Alto and Fremont on 237, and it sounds fine. The existing KDFC signal is particularly poor in Fremont, not that it's great on the Peninsula either, so this too is good news.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

a Ray of golden apples

I had a fair amount of musings when Arthur C. Clarke died. I have less about Ray Bradbury, last of the four SF writers of that generation whom non-SF readers had heard of, now off in the electric field surrounding the planet with Clarke, Asimov, and Heinlein.

Bradbury's work in fact is a good illustration of the principle that it's important to read fiction for what it is, and not as something else. (A principle I also apply to listening to music.) In the case of much of Bradbury's work, the "something else" is "science fiction." As a young SF reader I found Bradbury's fiction intensely irritating. He wrote about spaceships and Mars, but he didn't seem to take them seriously as other writers did.

That's because what he was writing wasn't science fiction as they'd define it. And not simply because The Martian Chronicles was technically impossible, which is the reason Bradbury himself gave for saying it wasn't science fiction. A lot of science fiction is technically impossible by science as we now know it. It's because Bradbury wasn't taking the questing, analytical investigative approach to his subjects that typifies SF. Instead, as some of his other work (Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked) ought to have made obvious, he was a Midwestern pastoral dark fantasist like, um, Charles G. Finney or even L. Frank Baum, who just happened to use spaceships and Mars as the ingredients of his fantasies. Read The Martian Chronicles like that, and forget anything concerning SF about Mars, and it immediately makes a lot more sense.

Of course, some of Bradbury's work really is science fiction, mostly of the most alarmingly cautionary sort. Fahrenheit 451, for one, and "There Will Come Soft Rains"1. I encountered these in school reading at too tender an age, before I was a regular SF reader, and the shock of that too erected a barrier between me and the work.

But there was yet more, too, to Bradbury. A couple years ago I finally found, 20 years after I'd first seen it listed in a bibliography, his Casey at the Bat pastiche, "Ahab at the Helm." It was worth the wait.

1. As I wrote on a previous occasion: If the title doesn't ring a bell, that's the one consisting of a lyrical description of an automated house-of-the-future, the kind that rings your alarm clock for you and then automatically fixes your breakfast, all the while chatting away with the insane cheerfulness of Eddie Your Friendly Shipboard Computer, doing all this in blissful ignorance of the fact that all the people had been incinerated the previous day, presumably by a neutron bomb.

Monday, June 4, 2012

concert review: Symphony Silicon Valley

And the question at hand was, which SSV was going to show up this week? The sizzlingly good one, or the damp squib? A more urgent question given that conductor Boughton + composer Sibelius had = damp squib before.

Answer: It was the good one. The really good one. Although they fell into the pit of the symphony's structural traps, they just danced their way right out of it again.

(Another lesson in identifying encores: The pianist just said it was by Rachmaninoff, and it sounded vaguely familiar but I didn't know what it was. So when I got home I pawed through the online scores of Rachmaninoff solo piano music until I found something that looked like it, and then listened to that particular piece on YouTube to confirm I was correct. The Mercury News reviewer got the number wrong.)

Culinary prelude: Strangely, nobody has yet told this restaurant's website that they've opened a branch on North Market where the weird cajun fusion place used to be, but K. knew better, and thither we went for jerk-spiced chicken, quel tasty.