Old folk at lunch

Monday, October 9, 2006

A musical weekend



My "weekend" started auspiciously when Anne brought over a piece of lamb on Thursday evening and made us a roast dinner. There's no roast as good as a roast straight from the oven to the table. We listened to the music of Purcell and Beethoven afterwards, including Beethoven's 6th., one of the few symphonies I put on often.

On Friday morning we had a very humble but still excellent breakfast -- meat pies. We got them from Muzza's at Coorparoo. Muzza is in my view the best pie cook in Brisbane, which is a bit ironical as he is a Kiwi. Australia is undoubtedly the world headquarters of meat pie eating so it is a bit surprising that it is a New Zealander who makes the best pies. His cakes are good too: Definitely sinful. He even has tiny mini-tarts for weight-watching ladies!

We took our pies to the Brisbane Corso (by the river) to eat, together with takeaway coffee. We found a shady nook there, overlooking the wide brown expanse of the Brisbane river. The birds that came to share our breakfast were a couple of magpies, rather unusually. We usually see either ibises or seagulls. We listened to a couple of the late symphonies of F.J. Haydn after breakfast.

On Friday evening we went to another classical music soiree at Bill's. Bill had dug out some excellent recordings for us and we started off most auspiciously with "Steppes of Central Asia" by Borodin. We also heard a Vivaldi cello concerto, which was new to me. It didn't sound much like Vivaldi but was good nonetheless. I went to sleep that night with "Steppes of Central Asia" playing in my brain -- a pretty good lullaby!

Saturday night was the night of G.F. Handel. There was a choral concert at St John's of the anthems originally played at the coronation of King George II -- with Handel's famous coronation anthems featuring prominently, of course -- though music from Purcell, Tallis and others was also heard. The grand music of Handel and the grandeur of a great stone cathedral were a good match. And, as a monarchist, I was pleased by the frequent cries of "God save the King". Being a bit of a hermit these days, I would not even have known the event was on but Anne grabs every opportunity to get me out of my hermit cave and music is the best lever for that. Anne is as social as I am reclusive. She is definitely a "lady who lunches".

On Sunday morning we Humbered down to the seaside at Wynnum and found a place that sold quite fancy takeaway food. We got takeaway chicken sandwiches, frittata and quiche which we ate in a picnic shelter by the water, followed by a walk along the esplanade. It was a good morning for a walk, being bright and sunny.

On Sunday evening we went to another meeting of our private live-music group. Hearing classical music live has a certain edge over recorded music but I have never quite figured out why. I got a clue from a Haydn cello concerto we heard, though. I was sitting only about 3 feet from the cello player and the cello sounded completely different from what one hears on recorded music -- much deeper, more resonant and dramatic. I thought I knew what cellos sounded like. I didn't!

The cello player was a young but very competent girl. Since Jacqueline du Pre, the cello seems to have become a female's instument. I will forbear from the usual jokes about that. The ladies do an excellent job and that is all that matters.

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