Don't mind the windmills - an evening with the B.P.
Saturday, December 10, 2011 4:52:32 PM
On the inside everything is dominated by the pentagonal flower-like main concert hall, with several petals branching out from centre stage - where the famous Berliner Philharmoniker sit and play - and a pretty amazing multiply skew ceiling, hung with things looking like wooden flying carpets and many lights, both suspended from, and embedded in, it. There's also a smaller chamber music hall, which I didn't get to see.
Because the "petals" are distributed around the centre at various levels, there's a lot of stairs and terraces outside the hall, surrounding it. This part looks Sixtyishly austere, almost church-like. Fans of retro will dig the railings and functional design of supports, light windows and ceilings.
I went to experience i.a. Richard Strauss' opus #35, Don Quixote. I am not very fluent in classical music, but I suppose everyone - including me - knows at least one piece of this late classical German composer: "Also sprach Zarathustra", as used repeatedly by Stanley Kubrick in his landmark s.f. film 2001. Going by that, I didn't expect what I then heard for about an hour last night: A wondrously playful musical score, with bleating sheep and triumphantly rushing windmill blades (incl. a wind noise contraption, whose handle had to be strenuously turned by the xylophonist for about one minute! ). The music itself rotates among all the major parts and instruments of the orchestra, almost giving all of these a solo at one point - even the two harps. What also surprised me was the modern cinematic sound of it - perhaps this is where people like John Williams have been digging for inspiration?
The errant knight himself was represented by a prominent cello, played by a well-known cellist (Ludwig Quandt). I happen to know what a cello looks and sounds like, because just a few days ago, I went to see Carrington Brown, a singing comedy duo act, incl. as a 3rd leg "Joe" the Cello. I love the semi-deep sound, and it looks just spiffing, don't you know?
Anyway, I resolved to buy this op. #35 thing in CD form, and listen to it again in more detail. And, an additional just-before-New-Year resolution: I will be visiting the Philharmonie more often in the future!
P.S.: A funny thing happened getting to the actual hall... I'd bought two tickets rather cheaply many weeks before, hoping to convince a friend to come as well. She declined a little late, so, adding in my non-too-social skills, I landed up standing at the entrance of the yellow-tiled building, holding up an A5-sized sign saying "single ticket for free", since I felt bad about just wasting the 2nd ticket. Another guy hoping to get rid of a ticket politely asked me whether I really wanted to give mine away; I only realised then that I must have been "competing" with him. A pleasant young woman came up at one point and asked whether it was a ticket for the chamber music do. No, sorry, the main event at eight. She uttered a disappointed mumble and slowly walked away. About five minutes later, when I was beginning to wonder whether I'd have to go in, so as not to be late, she came up again, this time with another young woman, and told me, she'd decided to take the ticket after all. I passed it on, happily. She asked whether now I had no ticket. I said, I had a 2nd one and we would be sitting side by side - and then went inside. Seconds later she came running up to me, her friend in tow... would I not take her friend's ticket and give her mine - they'd met outside by chance - then both of them could sit next to each other? I inspected the friend's ticket, then pointed out that this ticket was for a better "petal" (C block) than my two were (G block). No problem, they both assured me. So, I ended up in a better seat by simply (politely, my son!) giving my 2nd ticket away for free. Ain't life great?
(The photo of the building was taken by my snazzy phone camera on the night - click it to get to see more detail.
The cello is a detail from the English Wikipedia's "cello" entry.)