Friday roundup: Erwin cooks

Erwin Schröttner of Erwin Cooks and Cafe Katja.
Erwin Schröttner of Erwin Cooks and Cafe Katja.

Most of my attention this week was taken up with Marilyn’s Wednesday night concerta great success, and one we followed up with a few glasses of wine at our favorite local, Cafe Katja.

My good friend Erwin Schröttner is a co-owner of Cafe Katja (along with my good friend Andrew Chase) and no mean master of Central European culinary arts himself. Soon (and watch this space for more details), you’ll be able to pick up his secrets on the television series Erwin Cooks. As the web site for the show tells you:

Erwin Cooks is a journey through the cuisine of the Alps and Middle Europe. Currently there is no cooking show that represents the diversity of this region and enjoyment of its cuisine. …

Let us take a look at Austria, where you will find different specialties in each of its nine provinces. If you live in the southern, alpine part that borders northern Italy and Switzerland you will find down-to-earth, simple dishes like “Gröstl” or “Tiroler Leber mit Polenta” on the menu. Further east, next to Hungary, the soil is more fertile and the topography flat; an ideal climate for free roaming chicken and geese, and of course great wines! In contrast the cosmopolitan grandeur of cities like Vienna and Salzburg will give Erwin a chance to introduce the latest innovative cuisines of some of the top chefs working in Europe today.

Below, Herr Schröttner unleashes a fine beef goulash on you, and recommends some appropriate beers to boot. Prost! And I’ll see you at Katja — an oasis of genuine Austrian gemütlichkeit in a city that sorely needs it — for a glass or three of grūner this afternoon.


Marilyn NonkenBrava to the lovely Marilyn Nonken, who wiped the floor last night with her performance of Charles Ives’ Concord Sonata at NYU — at the same time introducing her audience to the remarkable Nine Preludes of the undersung Ruth Crawford Seeger. (It is, I’ve just learned, Charles Ives’ birthday today.) It was a privilege to be in the audience for the spectacular evening; I hope to be able to post an excerpt or two here in the near future.

As long as we’re distributing complements this morning, brava too to Hillary Clinton, who wiped the floor last night with her masterly debate triumph over the grossly bigoted, childish, skin-crawlingly sexist, corrupt, inept, and incompetent Donald Trump. Trump was, as usual, a petulant oaf; Clinton was informed, poised, principled, unflappable, and elegant. I used to be amused by Trump’s shenanigans on The Apprentice and its various offshoots, not least because these shows resembled plays by Ben Jonson or Moliere — a bunch of fawning sycophants seeking the approval of a wildly arbitrary egocentric autocrat in hopes of a permanent job. But what’s fun on television is grotesquely dangerous in politics and government, and recent polls suggest not merely that he’s failing to win over undecided voters, but also that he’s rapidly shedding mainstream members of the Republican Party from his constituency. If the poll numbers are correct, Clinton may well crush Trump like the roach he is in the general election, and hand at least one house of Congress back to the Democrats in the process. On Election Day I’ll be pulling the lever for Hillary Clinton not through clenched teeth but with a smile — that it will also be against Donald Trump is just an additional pleasure.

A joy to see two women do so well — one with American music, the other with American politics — on the same night. I lift my glass of grüner veltliner to both.

Where I’ll be tonight

Marilyn NonkenIf you’re looking for something to do on this slow night, I suggest you make your way to New York University’s Loewe Theater for the 8.00pm performance of Ultramoderns: Marilyn Nonken Plays Crawford and Ives. Marilyn will be playing Charles Ives’s Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass., 1840-1860 (1919/1947) and Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Nine Preludes (1925); more information is available at the Facebook page for the event. It’s free, and we hope to see you there.

Marilyn’s played the Concord before, about ten years ago. At that time, Tim Page wrote in the Washington Post, “There is genuine majesty in the ‘Concord’ Sonata, and nobody else, in my experience, has brought it out so convincingly as Nonken.” And for the New York Times, Paul Griffiths observed, “You could tolerate not hearing Ives’s ‘Concord’ Sonata too often … if every performance were as fresh, as inviting, as cogent and as delectable in sound and gesture as Marilyn Nonken’s.” Hear for yourself tonight.

If I have nothing to say, then I say nothing; hence the paucity of writing here lately. It’s not quite as bad as Karl Kraus’s “About Hitler there is nothing to say” — in the event, he went on to follow that with the 500 pages of The Third Walpurgisnacht, his final major work published only after the end of the Second World War — but surely the tenor of political rhetoric these days is bad enough without my adding to the festering pile. Over the past few days, though, I was fortunate enough to come across (for the measly price of $12.50) a first edition of the English translation of Heimito von Doderer‘s The Demons (1,300+ pages) at the Strand bookstore, of which I read about 100 pages at a sitting yesterday, picking it up again after I’d started reading it more than 10 years ago. This, along with a Monday visit to the Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900–1918 exhibition at the Neue Galerie, rekindled an enthusiasm for dear old Vienna, also reflected in the Vienna-by-night panorama above. Doderer’s novel takes place during the interwar era in Vienna, so it isn’t exactly contemporaneous with Klimt and his comrades, but it is something of a miracle — it was considered one of the major German-language novels of the century when it was published in 1956, right up there with Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities and Hermann Broch’s The Death of Virgil. I’m not sure I’ll have a lot of time to devote to it, but I will try, though you may here little more from me about it until sometime in 2018.

Note (October 20): An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the title of Doderer’s novel as The Devils.

Friday roundup

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber.
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber.

Not much to report this week, apart from yesterday’s monthly list. In the same spirit, here’s the first part of the “Mystery” or “Rosary” Sonatas by the Austrian Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704), composed in 1676 but rediscovered only in 1905. Each of the 16 sonatas relates to the Christian rosary, and each uses scordatura tuning. As the Wikipedia page about the sonatas explains,

Biber’s scordatura tuning helped create music that was relevant to the themes of each mystery. Apart from the first and last sonatas, each is written with a different scordatura. Scordatura is a technique which provides the instrument with unusual sonorities, colors, altered ranges and new harmonies made available by tuning the strings of the instrument down or up, creating different intervals between the strings than the norm. … [The] performer sees particular notes but hears different pitches when he or she plays, which can be both confusing and demanding to perform. … Biber uses scordatura primarily to manipulate the violin’s tone color, while the creation of otherwise impossible chords and textures are a welcomed, but secondary opportunity. Through the progression of the sonatas, the difficulty of the scordatura tuning rises and falls, with the peak of difficulty located in the Sorrowful Mysteries.

An appropriate conclusion, therefore, to yesterday’s list. Here are the first eight of Biber’s sonatas, performed by the Musica Antiqua Köln with soloist Reinhard Goebel. See you later at Blaue Gans.

October list

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764). Translated by John T. Goldthwait. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003.

The Four Gospels. Translated by E. V. Rieu. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1953.

David Ian Rabey, Theatre, Time and Temporality: Melting Clocks and Snapped Elastics. Bristol, England: Intellect Ltd., 2016.

Guillaume de Machaut, Messe de Notre Dame (c. 1360). The Hilliard Ensemble, conducted by Paul Hillier. Hyperion, 1990.

Below, a short excerpt from the Machaut recording: