Yesterday husband Ollie and I made a late decision to come down to Brighton. Ollie is keen on classical music, being secretary of the local madrigal society called the Pimlico Performers. Sounds likes a group of swingers rather than devotees of baroque music, but no such luck!!! The Brighton Festival was drawing to its end and the Halle orchestra were playing a concert of Janacek and Shostakovich at the Dome venue.
We could not get into 64 Degrees. I don’t expect a restaurant to provide places where there they have none but a little more courtesy to a regular than a curt “we are fully booked” might have been in order. So we walked the rabbit warren of the Lanes and came across a small Spanish restaurant Don Carlos that looked hopeful. They were able to accommodate us from 5-7 which suited us well. The restaurant is miniscule and could not pack in more tables. This provided atmosphere at the expense of comfort. The manager greeted us warmly and seemed well known to regulars. I was impressed that, having ordered 5 Tapas plates and wanting to add octopus, our waitress insisted that we had enough already. The gazpacho was excellent. Too often this is cold tomato soup. It’s vital to infuse garlic. I can tell by the colour: if it’s too red, this means too much tomato, if it’s more pinky then garlic has been introduced. Our waitress was right as after a plate of delicious Serrano ham, tortilla, calamari and grilled sardines there was only room for a freshly sliced orange in liqueur. With a bottle of Verdejo, sherries and mandarin liqueur, one of which was on the house, the bill was £50 per head and we were nicely set up for the concert. I doubled the service charge for it merited that and the house drink. I would return.
This was my first visit to the Dome concert hall and I was impressed. It is a modern auditorium not unlike the Barbican, air-conditioned with comfy seating. Ollie explained that Janacek like Dvorak is best known for his folklorist music. The first rendition at the Cunning Vixen was his interpretation of story of vixen trapped in a farm yard who is ultimately killed by a poacher. I rather enjoyed it as even with my little knowledge you could appreciate how stirring is the live performance of an orchestra pulling out all the stops in full flow. The second piece was a Shostakovich piano concerto with trumpet. Whenever Ollie plays Shotastakovich I do find he meanders a bit and I lose the plot but the audience was ecstatic. There was no such euphoria for the third piece after the interval, a work of Janacek, an atheist, called the Glagolitic Mass. To the back of the orchestra an assembled choir sang. Had it been a better known choral work I might have followed it better and I must admit my mind wondered. This is why I enjoy a classical concert – you do not have to force yourself but can stay within your own thoughts to follow as you wish. Ollie spoke enthusiastically of his opera Jenufa performed at Glyndebourne what 4 years ago and shared my view that this was not as engaging. Reading the programme notes I learned that Janacek throughout his life was obsessed by a Kamila Stasslova and wrote to her that he fantasised in composing the mass of the cathedral where they might get married. I thought aye, aye you might be better off booking in as Mr and Mrs Smith at the nearby Metropole!!!