Tuesday 16 December 2014

Harking back to a bygone age - recital at the 1901 Arts Club, London

Music had, for centuries, played an important role in our society.  Paintings and documents have long afforded us a glimpse into the vibrant musical life of generations past, particularly the music salons of 19th century.  These salons were meeting places for music lovers, performers, composers,  instrument makers, and the curious minded public of every walk of life - a cocktail of interesting characters unlikely to come together if not for the occasion.  Several performers would take to the stage, with slightly less fanfare than at a concert hall proper but every bit as compelling and

Monday 15 December 2014

Book Review - The Recorded Legacy of Vladimir Horowitz

Photo with 'Recorded Legacy of Vladimir Horowitz' author, Jun Kinoshita
I often call pianists of my age the 'Horowitz Generation'.  I grew up listening, watching, and reading about Vladimir Horowitz; my parents weren't using Mozart as a ruler for pianistic excellence, but Horowitz.  In our modest collection of recordings at home, Horowitz' far out-numbered any other pianists.  

At Juilliard, I sat in David Dubal's class.  Mr. Dubal is well-known far and beyond for his radio programme, his encyclopedic knowledge of the piano repertoire, as well as his association with Vladimir Horowitz.  

Sunday 14 December 2014

Kykkos Monastery - Cyprus at its most lavish and opulent

In the course of my travels, I try to seek out locations and sights that would stir and inspire me.  My heart is often drawn impatiently towards the destination, sometimes forgetting that the journey getting there is just as much an experience.  

The island of Cyprus is a Mediterranean paradise.  After working in Nicosia and Paphos, both bustling resort paradises (particularly the latter), I set off in search of one of the most lavish and religious icons of Cyprus, the Kykkos Monastery.  In distance, it is only 70km from Paphos,

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Chott el Jerid, Tunisia - Dry Salt Lake the closest thing to Mars on Earth?

In the days of our grandfathers, sunrise was the tranquility that begins the cycle of daily routines.  As light filters through darkness, the sun rises every morning tempting the birth of a new day.  Today it is as much a spectacle as the Eiffel Tower or a football match, with no less commotion.  

True enough, while we were in Tunisia, we hired a tour guide who could bring us to the salt lake of Chott el Jerid where we could watch the sunrise, a sight that is bestowed upon us for millions of years.  Chott el Jerid is a dried up salt lake at the border with Algeria in southwest Tunisia.  With only about

Monday 8 December 2014

D'Berto - The Best Seafood Restaurant in Spain!

Spain is a country that has insanely good food almost everywhere you go, and to crown an establishment (not only by me, but by every food critic in the Iberian Peninsular) as the best seafood restaurant is a royal feat.  It has to boast not only the best cooking but also the best ingredients, and it is not a title born out of snap judgment.  Welcome to Restaurante d'Berto.

d'Berto would probably win the title of the most obscure fine dining location - in O Grove, Galicia, Northwest Spain, no less.  I first met Berto months before I visited his restaurant,

Sunday 7 December 2014

Rashaville: rural tourism, an immersion in country life in Serbia

After my concert in Belgrade, Serbia, I had the immense fortune of meeting Russ Stanoylovic, a larger-than-life character who now runs a rustic ranch and hotel outside Belgrade with his amicable Chinese wife. Through my agent, Srdjan Stojanovic, who is no less a legendary character in the Serbian music circle, I was arranged a visit to Russ' ranch, affectionately called Rashaville.  

Some 60km outside Belgrade, or about an hour of scenic drive, a large banner spans across the country road