Olmos Park, San Antonio - When someone with a "VIII" attached to his surname invites you and your wife to his grand salon de musique for a concert in honor of Frédéric François Chopin's 200th birthday - after taking a moment to raise an eyebrow out of sheer curiosity - the only thing to do is don the coat and get out the door.
Some friends of ours – or more accurately, some friends of friends – have rekindled the tradition of a Salon: “a gathering of intellectual, social, political, and cultural enthusiasts under the roof of an inspiring host, partly to amuse one another and partly to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through music and conversation.” Or so went the description in the program we nabbed, where M and I were lucky enough to take front row seats for two virtuosic performances given by Jonathan Coombs (piano) and Matthew Zerweck (violin), respectively of Julliard and the Eastman School of Music.
That 9-ft piece of cured wood and iron in the left-hand corner is a 150th Anniversary Steinway (numbered). I've studied this company but have never actually seen one of its instruments; this guy has three. Twenty people in the room, and this was the Program:
Nocturne in F# Major - Chopin
Scherzo No. 2 - Chopin
Nocturne in C# minor - Chopin/Milstein
Sonata in E minor - Mozart
"Dreaming" from Sketches - Amy Beach
Songs my mother taught me - Dvorak/Kriesler
Rhapsodie Espagnole - Liszt
Was speaking w/ Jonathan afterwards, specifically about his performance of Liszt’s Rhapsodie Espagnole; “Where do you go, mentally, when you're playing? Because there isn’t a brain on the planet that can process the (I was informed) 28 THOUSAND notes in the 12 minute piece.” I almost felt like I was insulting him by asking the process of memorizing it, as though memorization didn’t do it justice. The notes seemed as much a part of him as his DNA. Turns out that it was the piece he played to get into Julliard. Naturally.