Back to the Berkshires

Late last July we joined some friends on a weekend trip to the Berkshires, some beautiful hills in Western Massachusetts.  Tom enjoyed it so much that he campaigned for another visit this year, and so it came to pass that last weekend saw us hopping in yet another rented car and heading northwards.

For reasons of economy, it was decided that we should hire our car in Hoboken, so I would get the dubious pleasure of driving into central Manhattan to collect our friends – saving literally half the cost of hiring in the city made this the sensible decision, but I can’t say I was particularly thrilled at the prospect!

The agenda this time was pretty similar to last year – an orchestral concert at Tanglewood on the Friday night, an opening night play at the Unicorn Theater in Stockbridge on the Saturday, and a historic house or two in the daytime. Tom and I also managed a quick detour into a gallery in Stockbridge which was exhibiting some Chihuly art glass – as always it was depressingly unaffordable (for us, at least) but so much fun to look at!

Tanglewood was as beautiful as we remembered it, with a mixed program containing some hits and misses – the real highlights were Dvorak’s serenade in D minor for winds and Yefim Bronfman playing Liszt’s piano concerto no. 2. The play, Nick Payne’s Constellations, was fantastic – well acted, sensitively directed, and even a slightly dodgy British accent failed to spoil things. Edith Wharton’s former summer house, The Mount, won us over with its gardens whilst opinion was divided about the interior (I liked it, myself!).

The Mount

On the way back to Manhattan we took a detour to visit Olana, the home of the artist Frederick Edwin Church. This was much less successful as far as I was concerned – touted as some kind of Persian palazzo above the Hudson river (designed to Church’s specifications), I found the aesthetic to be much heavier and less graceful than the Middle Eastern architecture and decor of my experience. The exterior was much more successful – with a kind of Portuguese, or maybe Turkish, feel to it – but I found the interior dark and clunky. The views, however, were quite spectacular.


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