Sunday, June 10, 2012


Friday's SSO concert was Brahms second Piano Concerto followed by Shostakovich 6th conducted by Oleg Caetani, ex Melbourne. I don't think they got on very well.

I didn't really settle into the Brahms, nor am I sure did they. The first two movements seems hurried and muddy, and at times all over the shop. The third brought things more together with lovely work from Catherine Hewgill on the cello. Phillipe Biancone made it look hard work, which it is I know, but the trick is etc. The handkerchief kept appearing and for a time he held it to his forehead as if feverish. I was wondering if he was. No sooner was I in the mountain house than the old Cliburn/Reiner Chicago was thirty three and a thirding it out in mono. Scratched and distorted maybe, but slow and loving, dancing and sparkling. That's the trouble with early imprinting.

A different orchestra and /or conductor came out for the Shostkovich. This was sharp, tutti, and fabulously attentive to detail and nuance. The first introspective movement was deeply moving and the excited race to the end a fine display of brilliant playing.

All that aside, what I really want to carry on about is the state of the Concert Hall. For what seems like years, and probably is, we've been subject to black drapes over the side boxes and side upper reaches of the hall. Acoustic improvement is the reason. Allegedly belongs in there somewhere but it is one of my least favorite words. Well I for one am sick of the look of them. It's funereal. And moreover on Friday night they looked like they'd been hung by drunks. If the decision has been made that the drapes are to stay, could someone (where are the style queens when you need them) embrace the big decision - what colour. A deeper cerise perhaps. There are seat colours to give guidance here.

And, the speakers (those big black menacing hanging things) were askew. Really. One up one down.

Outside everyone was oohing and aahing about the look of the building. Inside fared less well.


Susan Scheid said...

That sure sounds like a frustrating night out at the music hall. I agree, there doesn't seem much excuse for the black drapes--do they think if the choose another color, it will affect the sound? And the speakers are bizarre. Now, one question, though: if the concert had been stellar, would you have cared as much? Not to excuse it, but when so many things are going wrong, for me, at least, that's when I notice the other problems, too.

wanderer said...

Susan, colour is purely an aesthetic issue. The black just looks terrible. Black black black. It's neither chic nor smart. It's like a funereal parlour. That they were hung so sloppily and looked so makeshift plus the general lack of attention to detail was what triggered me off. Enough already.

I'm not convinced the drapes make much difference anyway.

The concert wasn't bad; the Shostakovich was really terrific. It was just that the whole setup look sloppy and I was embarrassed for any visitors and I think there were many.

Susan Scheid said...

I do hope you know I was kidding about color affecting sound (although I wonder what Schoenberg and Kandinsky would say . . .) I see my comment wasn't quite literate as to that!

wanderer said...

Of course. But the question of cross fertlisation of the senses is interesting and valid, as you allude. I meant to say that just because they are acoustic curtains does not exclude them from other aesthetic considerations.

I am more than usually sensitive to the look of things I have to say. And too too touchy about many irritations others seems to be able to set aside, like bad seat neighbours!