Sunday, January 11, 2009
My first Sunday in Paris has been a benchmark. I took quite a long stroll (about an hour) along the Left Bank en route to the Place de l’Alma, where I had made plans to meet Nancy Machiah, whose son Michael is a dear friend of Lucy Sharp, a daughter of my friends Steve and Lee Sharp from Lexington. Michael, Lucy and the Sharps joined us at the chamber music festival last August, so Nancy and I had much to chat about. She is just grand, and after the get-to-know-one-another cocktail we decided to go off to the Theatre des Champs-Elysees where the Orchestre National de France was doing Mendelssohn wonderful oratorio, Elias. As late arrivals we got incredibly good seats for only a few euros for a concert that would have been a bargain at any price. Under the baton of the stentorian Kurt Masur and with a stage filled with more than 130 voices comprising the Choeur de Radio France, this was just a magic performance. Splendid vocalists, particularly the bass Alastair Miles. Just terrific, the whole show was. Following many, many curtain calls, Masur picked up the score he had been conducting, flashed it about, then held it close to his heart while pointing to it, suggesting that it was Mendelssohn to whom the accolades really should be directed. How terribly moving, but not something I had seen from a conductor. It was very special. Nancy and I had our picture snapped outside the Plaza Athenee Hotel after the concert, with the Eiffel Tower serving as rather a splendid backdrop. We have plans to connect again for more music, vin, and conversation. This was a very good day.