Postscript in D flat:

       When one dines at the storybook La Provvidenza in Ferrara, that gracious, gardened city with its muted echoes of the tragic Finzi-Continis, the antipasto table will if the stars are in correct position include a dish of the tastiest herring imaginable, accompanied by large brown beans, and nearby there should be salami, gt35_stanislav_bunin_tokyo_program.jpgfrittata and endive with raisins and toasted pinoli before you go on to the macaroni pie which is Ferrara’s culinary signature tune. Perfection!

        I should say, though, that La Provvidenza while it is surely a destination experience was not my prime reason for traveling to Ferrara on an unusually hot spring day not long ago, arriving, as it happened, to the epiphany of encountering a vibrant Italian passeggiata fully operative in the vicinity of cattedrale-castello-mercato at twenty-eight degrees Celsius.

        My mission was to meet a distant cousin, the Russian pianist Stanislav Bunin, who was giving a concert — for a delighted but wilted audience, it turned out — in the venerable opera house across from the castle which for readers of guidebooks is Ferrara’s logo so to speak, its Transamerica Pyramid or Empire State Building.

        I had sent Stanislav a tape of Chopin played by my great aunt the pianist Fannie Bloomfield Zeisler, and was intrigued when he told me that Fannie’s performance of the D flat nocturne revealed at one point a particular interpretive choice made by no other pianist he knew of, except himself and his grandfather the fondly-remembered Heinrich Neuhaus of the Moscow Conservatoire.

        Clearly providence was nurturing connections in this pianistic gene pool as well as smiling on the Ferrarese restaurant organizing for its clients such a harmonious assortment of singing antipasti. Need I tell you that a wish in my mind for Stanislav to cap his all-Chopin program with an encore or two from Schumann (we’d just been to the house where Schumann was born, in Zwickau) was answered as if by the surest telepathy.

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