Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Weighty Opus of an Evening

I expected a couple date and instead got an old friend.

Knowing that both the Symphony and the Forum were happening tonight, we made plans to meet at the Magpie at 6.

And a good thing, too.

From 6:15 on, there was a steady stream of people coming in search of dinner only to be told that there was no room at the inn.

Holmes arrived without his lady love (who was under the weather), so it was like the old days pre-girlfriend, when we used to have dinner together regularly.

They were out of our first choice, a South African Chenin Blanc, so we improvised with a bottle of the Bodegas La Cana Albarino, an understated little gem that got us rolling.

Trying to use our time wisely, we immediately ordered the wild boar hushpuppies with honey, pomegranate and rosemary oil.

Holmes was a tad hesitant but how can you go wrong with fried bread? And the wild boar was a minor note, not an overwhelming thing.

As usual, classic rock was the order of the day at Magpie, although there was enough classic R & B to keep me from sticking a steak knife in my ear.

Talk of the Velvet Underground led me to point out how important they were to David Bowie, a fact I had recently read.

The bartender overheard and eagerly asked me, "Did you read that piece on Bowie in "Rolling Stone"?"

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I had, leading to a gush-fest as the two of us unleashed our inner Bowie groupies.

Like me, she had been taken with the descriptions of Bowie's penchant for walking around naked and his, ahem, long, weighty member swinging in the breeze.

In fact, she said her boyfriend had tried to talk to her while she was reading about it and she had told him not to bother her for twenty minutes.

Exhibit A: I sit at the bar because I don't think you get these kind of conversations at a table.

By the time we finished that passionate discussion, my braised pork cheeks in lobster broth had arrived and Holmes dug into his oyster, leek and roasted garlic soup, sharing tastes with me.

The rabbit and candied pecan sausage was all the better for the sage custard and bleu cheese that accompanied it. When it comes to sausage, Chef Owen is a master.

By that time Holmes had started talking to the guy next to him and they'd established when they'd graduated (within a year of each other) and what friends they had in common.

He instructed me to order dessert, knowing it is an area of expertise for me, and I chose what the server likened to a Twix, with chocolate and caramel over shortbread, sprinkled with sea salt over orange creme Anglaise.

To accompany it, we went Italian with splits of Tiamo Prosecco, savoring its fresh and fruity lightness with our very candy bar-like finish.

When the last bubble was swallowed, we beat feet for CenterStage and the Richmond Symphony.

Once in our seats, Holmes immediately cracked me up by looking down at his tie and nonchalantly observing, "And Holmes' tie tonight is from the deceased partner's collection."

Turns out his partner's widow had gifted him with her dead husband's ties.

Is it just me or is that kind of gruesome but hysterical, too?

Leading off tonight's symphony performance of all Romantic Period music was Grieg's "Suite No. 1 from Peer Gynt, Opus 46."

I had no reason to think I'd recognize it and yet, within seconds of it starting, Holmes leaned over and said exactly what I was thinking: "Classic Bugs Bunny."

Yep, totally familiar from cartoons. Hey, we all have to start our classical music education somewhere and Elmer Fudd is as good a place as any.

For Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 43" a grand piano was rolled onstage and soloist Katherine Chi came out in a stunning black gown with a sheer front and back.

The energetic piece required so much energy from her that her cheeks began to quiver with her movements.

"Like jelly," Holmes grinned, trying again to make me laugh.

The final piece was Finnish composer Sibelius' "Symphony No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Opus 82," like the other pieces, conducted by a guest Bulgarian conductor (who graduated in 2001!), Danah Rachev.

Being the non-musician that I am, I just wallowed in the music from the first horns through the growing pace as it went from slow to a fast finish.

Afterwards, Holmes, ever the musician with classical training, sniffed, "It took him the first fifteen minutes to find the melody."

May I just state for the record that there are worse ways to spend one's life than looking for the melody.

It's been my modus operandi as long as I can remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment