<< -- 2 -- Bill Newman BERLIN FESTIVAL DIARY
In tackling the Second Sonata, however, Kodama does not have the required
weight of tone or the brutal, biting satire of bringing the younger Prokofiev
across to audiences. My other regret was that only the second movement of
the Second Violin & Piano Sonata was included -- performed as an encore.
The outside view of the celebrated Philharmonie offers no clues to the
spacious interior of the building -- a feat of architectural design and sonic
splendour only equalled, in my opinion, by Symphony Hall, Birmingham in
Britain. As far as I could ascertain it is octagonal in shape: the end elevation
that contains the orchestral and choir seating tapers at right angles each
side of the platform working back to three tiered audience levels that converge
high up to chamfer inwards at 45 degrees, supported by a massive concrete
buttress dead centre -- the extreme opposite of the area above the musicians
level where the organ pipes are clearly visible. Many suspended wires contain
microphones that aid correct balancing of orchestral forces; these are supported
crosswise and secured by pinions, while ceiling lighting at all points is
regulated throughout -- soft-toned during the concert itself, full-on after
it has ended.
My first orchestral concert was a welcome return to the Berlin Philharmonic.
Shamefully I had not heard them live since Herbert von Karajan brought them
to London. The ebullient French maestro Charles Dutoit was in charge for
an all-Ravel programme and he gave the concert master a characteristic shoulder
embrace as he came on.
Alborada del Gracioso showed the players' marvellous sheen
and natural ensemble. Only the first trumpet had triple-tonguing problems
just after the start that raised Dutoit's eyebrows, yet this was a minor
blemish in an otherwise scintillating reading. It was taken at its correct
speed -- fairly fast with details all in place, with subtle, sweet toned
solos in the central section.
Copyright © 19 December 2000
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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