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The Great Symphony Orchestras

Discussion in 'Entertainment, Culture, and Sports' started by Huntsman, Oct 3, 2006.

  1. Thracozaag

    Thracozaag Well-Known Member

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    Three greatest orchestral performances I've heard in the past ten years:

    Jansons conducting Vienna in Shosty 5
    Jansons conducting Concertgebouw in Shosty 7
    Bloomstedt conducting Philly in Bruckner 3

    koji
     
  2. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    L.A.'s Disney Symphony Hall is contrived; Frank Gehry should be put down.

    I think Walt Disney Concert Hall is rather beautiful. I remember when it was being built across the street from Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and I'd take a look at it before or after concerts to see how it was taking shape. It was interesting to see how the I beams were twisted and bent to make the shape of the hall. The beams also had individual serial numbers presumably so that they knew where to put them since the hall's construction is quite intricate.

    The space itself is also very interesting. It's a very playful, inviting, perhaps almost needy, space which encourages you to explore and look at every nook and cranny. Almost every space in that building has windows that look into another space making you wonder how you'd get to that spot. The intersections of the various curves, lines, and other elements of the building have never failed to be interesting. My favorite intermission spot is a little balcony right behind the central terrace that connects one side of the building to the other. If you look down, you can see the two escalators rolling up from the parking area framed in a beautifully crazed array of lines and arcs which complements the motion of the escalators --- almost every angle in that building is like a DIY exercise in Cubist architecture. Gehry is a freaking genius.

    Of course, then there's the hall itself, which is magnificent. Its two greatest attributes are its clarity of sound, both in separation of texture as well as the huge dynamic range from the smallest pianissimo to the loudest sounds afforded to the orchestra, and its bass, both of which were amply demonstrated by this past weekend's performance of Mahler 3. If you want to find out how good an orchestra's technique is, let it play in WDCH: nothing is hidden.

    I also think we're very lucky here in Southern California to have WDCH, as well as the new Segerstrom Concert Hall going up in Costa Mesa. Representing the other school of acoustic design by Russell Johnson (who also did Meyerson in Dallas and the Kimmel in Philadelphia, though that building has its problems), we'll get to directly compare these two very disparate philosophies of acoustic design from people who are at the top of their game.

    --Andre
     
  3. metaphysician

    metaphysician Well-Known Member

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    Just so you know, the LA Phil has long been considered one of the majors... the "big 5" is a concept that dates back the 50s, and to everyone in classical music, it is one of the vexing phrases that regular people use. It's now the major 6, and it's party based on pay scale. LA pays as much as any of the "big 5". Winning an LA audition is seen as being as prestigious as winning a place in Philly.

    I know this. During the Muti years most people probably would rather have played in LA than in Philadelphia...Salonen's gig in LA is really, to my mind, has solidified their reputation as an orchestra, as he happens to be one of the best conductors around and probably one of the more exciting and accessible composers working today, too. I don't mention LA in the same breath as the others because high culture doesn't have a great pedigree in LA.

    Maazel micromanages. Abbado is enjoying a lot of critical praise now, for some reason, after he was ousted from Berlin. His recording of Zauberflote was great (but what with Rene Pape isn't, really?), and I haven't heard him with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, but his time in Berlin was unimpressive. No one tops him in Mendelssohn, though.

    The strings were anemic. Solti earned his reputation for in-your-face interpretation (Tippett was rather vocal about this while he was writing stuff for the Chicagoans). As for how people hear these orchestras - radio broadcasts, recordings, and live performances. Maybe my ears are off.

    No.
     
  4. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    I think Walt Disney Concert Hall is rather beautiful. I remember when it was being built across the street from Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and I'd take a look at it before or after concerts to see how it was taking shape. It was interesting to see how the I beams were twisted and bent to make the shape of the hall. The beams also had individual serial numbers presumably so that they knew where to put them since the hall's construction is quite intricate. The space itself is also very interesting. It's a very playful, inviting, perhaps almost needy, space which encourages you to explore and look at every nook and cranny. Almost every space in that building has windows that look into another space making you wonder how you'd get to that spot. The intersections of the various curves, lines, and other elements of the building have never failed to be interesting. My favorite intermission spot is a little balcony right behind the central terrace that connects one side of the building to the other. If you look down, you can see the two escalators rolling up from the parking area framed in a beautifully crazed array of lines and arcs which complements the motion of the escalators --- almost every angle in that building is like a DIY exercise in Cubist architecture. Gehry is a freaking genius. Of course, then there's the hall itself, which is magnificent. Its two greatest attributes are its clarity of sound, both in separation of texture as well as the huge dynamic range from the smallest pianissimo to the loudest sounds afforded to the orchestra, and its bass, both of which were amply demonstrated by this past weekend's performance of Mahler 3. If you want to find out how good an orchestra's technique is, let it play in WDCH: nothing is hidden. I also think we're very lucky here in Southern California to have WDCH, as well as the new Segerstrom Concert Hall going up in Costa Mesa. Representing the other school of acoustic design by Russell Johnson (who also did Meyerson in Dallas and the Kimmel in Philadelphia, though that building has its problems), we'll get to directly compare these two very disparate philosophies of acoustic design from people who are at the top of their game. --Andre
    I've only seen it tangentially; however, like many contemporary architectural pieces, once all is discovered, it tends to become merely an habit. Indeed, my aversion to the hall not only stems from that awful name, and corporate affiliation but also from the ubqiuitous designs that Gehry no doubt doles out with a sly benevolence to each client. Gehry's designs are too sterile without that poignancy, which I feel characterizes exceptional modern architecture. It develops an existential moment, whither after the fact or otherwise. I do hear, that it has an impeccable acoustics system.
     
  5. clarinetplayer

    clarinetplayer Well-Known Member

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    I've only seen it tangentially; however, like many contemporary architectural pieces, once all is discovered, it tends to become merely an habit. Indeed, my aversion to the hall not only stems from that awful name, and corporate affiliation but also from the ubqiuitous designs that Gehry no doubt doles out with a sly benevolence to each client.

    Gehry's designs are too sterile without that poignancy, which I feel characterizes exceptional modern architecture. It develops an existential moment, whither after the fact or otherwise.

    I do hear, that it has an impeccable acoustics system.


    Who cares what it looks like? As long as the acoustics are true, that is the only thing that matters. Look at the disasters at Lincoln Center and Orchestra Hall in Chicago. Detroit is blessed with an acoustically perfect hall built 80+ years ago. Nothing can replace plaster and wood.
     
  6. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    Who cares what it looks like? As long as the acoustics are true, that is the only thing that matters. Look at the disasters at Lincoln Center and Orchestra Hall in Chicago. Detroit is blessed with an acoustically perfect hall built 80+ years ago. Nothing can replace plaster and wood.
    Why shouldn't it matter if it's beautiful or not? S.F. Symphony Hall is hideous, and there is no pleasure derived from that. You can have a pen that writes well but which looks like a drunk Soviet peasant designed it.
     
  7. Violinist

    Violinist Well-Known Member

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    "I don't mention LA in the same breath as the others because high culture doesn't have a great pedigree in LA."

    The hubris of this statement is just exhilerating.
     
  8. Violinist

    Violinist Well-Known Member

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    Why shouldn't it matter if it's beautiful or not? S.F. Symphony Hall is hideous, and there is no pleasure derived from that.

    You can have a pen that writes well but which looks like a drunk Soviet peasant designed it.



    Well, if you aren't some scenester fool who goes to concerts and spits out whatever the critic said the week before with the other scenester fools by the bar during intermission, you're there to hear music. Yes, it helps if the hall is something to look at, but it all comes down to artistic priorities. If one could get the ultimate concert going experience in a total box (from an aural standpoint), then maybe that would be something worth exploring. Avery Fischer, Barbician, Roy Thompson Hall, and a number of halls built around that time are acoustically regrettable at the least, and disasters at the very worst.
     
  9. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, my aversion to the hall not only stems from that awful name, and corporate affiliation but also from the ubqiuitous designs that Gehry no doubt doles out with a sly benevolence to each client.

    WDCH was named after Walt Disney because Lillian Disney, his wife, donated $50 million to start the design and construction of the hall. The Disney family in total contributed about $100 million to the hall, but the Disney corporation has given only a fraction of that amount. Another $150 million was raised from the Southern California community. It is through and through a project undertaken by the (wealthy) residents of Los Angeles and run by the county. Even Esa-Pekka Salonen has contributed 6 figures to the construction of the hall. In the hall's public communications, WDCH is very carefully distinguished from the Disney corporation: for example, you'll never hear them call it "Disney Hall", and always "Walt Disney Concert Hall".

    Whatever else you may dislike about the hall, its corporate affiliation with Disney can't be one of them.

    --Andre
     
  10. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    Well, if you aren't some scenester fool who goes to concerts and spits out whatever the critic said the week before with the other scenester fools by the bar during intermission, you're there to hear music. Yes, it helps if the hall is something to look at, but it all comes down to artistic priorities. If one could get the ultimate concert going experience in a total box (from an aural standpoint), then maybe that would be something worth exploring. Avery Fischer, Barbician, Roy Thompson Hall, and a number of halls built around that time are acoustically regrettable at the least, and disasters at the very worst.
    Clearly, that's the point of a symphony hall--to hear music. Otherwise, I'd suggest simply using iTunes, and devote yourself to a blog. However, what's most regrettable are those pretenses that the spectators put up, especially during the opening season times; full of awful get-ups, and more cheque-books than merit.
     
  11. aportnoy

    aportnoy Well-Known Member

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    I was in college in St. Louis during the early-mid 80's and had the privileage of hearing Leonard Slatkin lead the orchestra on numerous occasions. To this day, they reamin the most consistent and exhilirating orchestra that I've encountered.

    Though,it would be remiss not to emntion Bernstein conducting Malher or Solti leading the Chicago through its paces.
     

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