Sunday, May 15, 2016


With apologies to the blogger of the same name, but we really did.

To see and hear the acoustic of the new Paris Philharmonie, whose main hall internal designs were inspired by the formidably successful Berlin Philharmonie, was one reason for the detour to Paris; not that one needs one.

Even several months in advance, tickets were scarce for the Orchestre de Paris / Christopher Eschenbach concert of Wagner Monologues with Matthias Goerne, and Brahms Second Symphony. Eschenbach and Goerne had come to Sydney in 2011 with the Vienna Phil, and Goerne had a big success earlier this year with Schubert's Wintereisse. I'd enjoyed both, muchly.

The Philharmonie, itself a major complex, is in a major arts precinct all happening at Parc de la Villette in the 19th, in the north east. The approach from the Metro is, for me, scarred by the huge LED screen which dominates the sight lines. Useful I'm sure, but really, remember first impressions ...

Once past that, or from the side, things start to look more hey-look-at-me and impressive.

Metal and aluminium scales and swirls create a fractured heavy shell which looks more interesting than gob-smacking, though under sunny rather than heavy leaden skies (which I happen to like) things might be different. Bilboa (which blew us quite away when we visited just after completion) needn't worry, nor LA to a lesser extent; Sydney never needs to worry (the more I see the more timeless and staggeringly beautiful it becomes).

Inside is (as mentioned) designed with the Berlin Philharmonie in mind. The public spaces were of no particular style or impact, and one could question the quality of the finish. In the hall, we were at the disadvantage of sitting high on one side (second level, or as high as the sides go) about mid concert platform. But at 15 euro a seat, this was cheaper than standing room in most places.

So to the concert, where judgement really should be reserved. There were untidy moments, and with the sound coming all but directly to us, it was of limited impact and warmth. Mr Goerne also was difficult to judge, though he could be heard. But more importantly, the seating was such that knees were kept permanently flexed - a plumb line dropped from my patella (knee cap) would have ended well beyond my toes. Moreover, I had no sideways options - a railing pole on one side, a person on the other. Beyond the discomfort, I was glad to be on aspirin - deep venous thrombosis kept popping into my mind when I should have been having Walküre-go-to-sleep thoughts.

The Brahms 2 wasn't that important, besides we'd just had a fine performance with the SSO and Christoph von Dohnayi.

We go again in a few days. I can't remember where we are sitting, but I hope it's better - Mahler 4 and  the Berg Violin Concerto with Harding and Faust I would like see through.


NPW-Paris said...

No apologies, please. And yes, sometimes I leave at the interval too - hence the name of the blog!

wanderer said...

Why hello! Thanks for taking the time. You live in a lovely city.

Strangely, the last time I remember not staying the distance was also in Paris - my own blog search here reminds me it was a pretty tedious Gottterdammerung at Bastille with of all people Torsten Kerl, he of the recent rave, completely forgotten. That's why we (or I, at least) blog I guess.