It was one of those freezing nights last fall just after Thanksgiving. The days were getting shorter and it was dark by mid-afternoon. There didn't seem to be anything else to do that bleak evening but head to a party to sample an array of local liquors.
And that's where I met Evgeny (Gene) Liberman. His family owns Moscow on the Hill a restaurant in Saint Paul's Cathedral Hill neighborhood. Delicious and authentic food chased with shots of infused vodkas — like my most favorite, horseradish. And Gene's appearance at the Fine Spirits Classic was so he could introduce this drink now bottled and sold by the name "Referent."
A little vodka, a Russian accent and I just had to invite Gene to share some classics from the old country on Classical MPR.
But not without mom coming along.
If you've been to Moscow on the Hill on the weekend, you know her already. Marina Liberman is the lovely brunette who is always focused on the front door, welcoming, chit-chatting and causing conversation herself with her ever-changing wardrobe and collection of dozens and dozens of designer glasses.
Marina tells me the first two pieces on her playlist were an easy choice because they're her two sons; Igor — Borodin's prince Igor — and Evegeny — Tchaikovsky's Evgeny Onegin, anglicized as "Eugene" Onegin which elicits a scowl and scold from Marina!
Despite my pleading, we did not get a Pushkin poem read for us, one that Gene says he proudly learned as a child, and proudly forgot soon after. But we have words beautifully articulated by singers, the fastest bumblebee flight and one of Russia's finest playing Rachmaninov.
Delicious, rich and as Marina tells me if you want to enjoy the food, don't expect it to be low-calorie! Na Zdorovie!
Marina and Evgeny Liberman's playlist:
In April we celebrate the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Choral Stream. Guests this month are all choral fanatics and we start the series this month with the Executive Director of VocalEssence, Mary Ann Pulk (also a stunning English horn player!)