Monday, April 10, 2006

First Time in Disney Hall

I did a bad thing yesterday, and I got into trouble for doing it. I took a photograph inside the new Walt Disney Concert Hall. The usher came and told me off. I was sitting beside my children’s brilliant Ukranian piano teacher, Mrs. Galina Berezovsky. I made a joke to her about it afterwards, saying they are probably worrying about the Ruskies get the pictures, after all we don’t want them getting hold of the technology. She laughed.

We were there in this amazing hall for the first time. It was particularly pleasing to me because our daughter Maran was performing as one of the choristers in the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. Their rendition of Bach’s “Bist du bie mir” was later followed by the Gibson “Dona nobis pacem” It was lovely. I suppose my Jewish friends would call that nachus. . (Well it is Easter you know!)

The concert was rounded out by having the American Youth Symphony accompany them, and they also played a couple of dramatic pieces with broad dynamics, “Night on Bald Mountain” and “The Firebird Suite” which demonstrated the exceptional acoustics of the hall itself. If you were lulled into dreaminess during the softer portions of the latter you were in for a rude awakening, for, as is done in Hyden’s “Surprise”, the timpanist let lose a volley of bashes on the base drum that fairly rocketed round the auditorium baring the sclera.

I found a better picture of the Toyota French Fries (The new Organ)

I was reminded of another first time, way back in 1969, when I attended a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, in London. For years musicians used to joke about the echo in the hall, saying that if you played there you at least heard your performance twice. This problem was not successfully tackled until a series of large fiberglass acoustic diffusing discs were installed in the roof . The program then for the first concert after the discs were installed included the Bruckner 6th Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with bells and real cannon. The brass in the first and the bangs in the last fairly blew us out of our seats....

I guess want I wanted to say is that although we were cramped, and I can’t figure out why Frank O. Gehry would let his fine work be so abused by pecuniary meanness, the hall is exquisite, and the sound is marvelous. It is quite a Los Angeles achievement, unlike the Getty, which looks like a cheap condo lot on the top of the hill.

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