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<<  -- 2 --  Keith Bramich    LISZT AT LUNCHTIME

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Once in the 2006-seat main hall, there was plenty of room for everyone, and, in spite of the surprisingly smart presentation (the performer and large numbers of hall staff all dressed formally), the hall took on something of the atmosphere of a big picnic lunch, the resonant acoustic picking up the sounds of rustling paper bags and babies crying, which unfortunately didn't completely stop during Eri Niiyama's moving, enjoyable and certainly competent recital on the Austrian Rieger organ. Listeners continued to arrive during the performance, and this and the recital's brevity (thirty minutes or so) probably reflect the city workers' need to travel to and from the hall for the recital, all during a short and efficient lunch break.

The main hall. Photo © Suntory Ltd
The main hall. Photo © Suntory Ltd

The concert consisted of a single work -- the Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale 'Ad nos, salutarem undam' by Franz Liszt. The lengthy Fantasy is mostly quiet and reflective, perhaps more in tune with Liszt the padré than the composer's demonic side. The work is based on a hymn-like tune from the opera Le Prophète by Giacomo Meyerbeer. The ensuing fugue is more dramatic -- some quite powerful playing here, using both a concert pianist's finger technique and the orchestral sounds available to the romantic organ, complete with pedal solos and tuba stop.

Suntory Hall's Rieger Organ. Photo © Suntory Ltd
Suntory Hall's Rieger Organ. Photo © Suntory Ltd

I found it rather satisfying to experience this complete work in a self-contained concert, but it was soon over. Miss Niiyama (assisted by her rather bean-pole-like page turner and registration changer) left the four manual portable organ console -- placed front centre-stage -- rather quickly, after acknowledging the applause only once, and suddenly the large audience was leaving, setting me wondering why we couldn't have had forty, fifty or even sixty minutes of music, why so many people had made so much effort to attend such a short recital, and exactly what was Tokyo's secret weapon, shielding the city from the sad decline of classical music elsewhere?

The Ark Hills complex, home to Tokyo's Suntory Hall. Photo © 2002 Keith Bramich
The Ark Hills complex, home to Tokyo's Suntory Hall. Photo © 2002 Keith Bramich

 

Copyright © 29 November 2002 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK

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SUNTORY HALL

FRANZ LISZT

RIEGER ORGANS

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