Thursday, July 6, 2017

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part CXVII

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

Feliciano
was an architectural photographer whose work appeared in Architectural Digest and other shelter publications. The whole time I knew him I never knew his last name nor did I ever think to ask.

He was just "Feliciano."

We went to see The Unknown Soldier and His Wife by Peter Ustinov, a strongly stated anti-war play at the George Abbott Theater.  The music was by David Shire who years before had played Treva Silverman and my invented game, "Periphery," in Treva's apartment.
Interesting to see Christopher Walken's name in the program as The Unknown Soldier.
Brian Bedford as The General and Howard Da Silva as The Archbishop.
Afterwards, we went to Blum's for ice cream.  Blum's had originated in California and for the time it was in Manhattan, introduced the city to thick milkshakes and other West Coast gourmet ice cream delights.
I stopped to visit Jim Schmitt before going across the park to visit my cousin Adrienne Albert-McClure on Central Park West.
She and her husband John McClure were entertaining Gail and Marty Stayden, two friends from Los Angeles. The Staydens lived in a big beautiful English-Tudor styled house that had once belonged to the movie director, Michael Curtiz. Gail had a nonstop raucous sense of humor which was a contrast to her elegant appearance. Once, while I was leaving her house, she waved goodbye from her vast front lawn while standing on her head! That kind of humor!

Aside from being a full-time mother of young children, she also was a sometime-model!
John was the producer for the Columbia recordings of Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz and others and had just started working with a rock group called "The Flock." Going to a Bernstein concert with John was fascinating as he sat following the music score and making notes. After the concert, he would give to Bernstein as suggestions or critiques.

He knew music!  

John and Leonard Bernstein.
He invited me to a Horowitz concert in New Haven, Connecticut;  I'd said to John that while as a pianist, I admired and envied Horowitz's amazing technical facility, I felt that he lacked a certain warm sensitivity, a poetic quality.  

So we went to New Haven where Horowitz was giving a recital after having been more or less retired. Rumors had been going around that he'd had a sort of mental crisis, one extreme saying that he'd felt his fingers were breakable glass! He was preparing for a return to the concert stage with an upcoming concert in Carnegie Hall and this was a sort of preparatory warm up.

The program was loaded with the technical fireworks for which he had had such a brilliant career and the technique was still there, as impossibly facile as ever.  After thunderous applause, he played an encore, a hushed minimalist piece by Claude Debussy, "des Pas Sur la Neige" ("Footsteps in the Snow"), a piece that I had myself performed.

There are no fireworks in this piece;  it's a musical depiction of a snow-smothered landscape with halting footsteps left in deep snow.  The snow amplifies the stillness of the scene.
It was an uncharacteristic musical choice for Horowitz and he nailed it!

John was watching my reaction (as I wiped away a tear) and I looked back at him and just nodded.

This was a wonderful compliment to me that John had taken seriously my critique of Horowitz's sensitivity.  I wondered if by this choice of an encore, Horowitz himself had felt that he had neglected the less flamboyant but more subtle repertoire during his career.
Gail and Marty were a handsome couple.
The next evening I was taken to the Village to a place close to the Hudson River.  It was the aptly named West Boondocks Restaurant.

The specialty was soul food and accompanying the amazing menu was a small jazz group! This would be the place to bring French visitors so that they could see and taste genuine American food!
Afterwards, we went back uptown where Maria Smith had surprised Kevin Higgins with a birthday party!
The apartment had been transformed into a discotheque!
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