Angel Place - Sydney
Last Thursday, I went to concert of chamber music at Angel Place, a venue purposedly built for this type of small formations.
It is a lot less famous than the Sydney Opera House, but is said to have a much better acoustic. Quoting their website:
<<"Science and art combine in Sydney's new recital hall to create an acoustic and aesthetic triumph"
– The Bulletin
Architects Peddle Thorp and Walker(PTW) designed the 1,238 seat Hall in a shoebox shape, proven worldwide as the ideal shape for hearing western classical music. Based on the classical configuration of the 19th century European concert hall, the design includes gently raking stalls and two galleries that wrap around both sides and rear of the auditorium creating a sense of intimacy between audience and performer.
The elegant decor of French grey, gold leaf, light timber panelling and plum coloured upholstery provides a sense of occasion, enhanced by the white marble grand staircase that sweeps up from the entry foyer to the three seating level foyers, each with their own bar.>>
To the risk of alienating my friends at PTW (who also designed the Water Cube for the Beijing Olympics - a real architectural icon), this is more corporate Australia than French elegance, but it is comfortable, intimate and well-suited to a smaller group of musicians, hence fitting the brief perfectly. And when the sound reinforcement system is switched off, then you can really appreciate the acoustic properties of the venue.Anyway, I came to listen to Simon Tedeschi who is to piano what Richard Tognetti is to the violin. (can't beat Anne-Sophie though...)It is my first chance to listen to him live, and it is certainly worth it. An added bonus was that the first piece from Strauss featured the son of my ex-employer, Ben Ward, a talented young musician, as well as his three other brothers (and Harry Ward in particular already had an international career from a very young age...)We were also treated to Brahms - Trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano in A minor, Op. 114 - and Mozart - Quintet for piano and Winds in E flat major, K 452. All beautifully played and enjoyable.The surprise came with Carl Vine, an Australian composer famous for composing the Australian National anthem, the music for the closing ceremony of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, announcing Sydney as the venue of the Olympics in 2000, and also for being the Artistic Director of Musica Viva Australia, and the Huntington Estate Festival in Mudgee, both major events on the Classical Music Agenda in Australia.We were treated to his String Quartet no. 3, an amazing piece of only 15mns.I have recently received a long email from Terry, a Brisbane born expat to South Korea, in which he shared my opinion on the necessity to be exposed to Modern Classical Music as a LIVE performance first, if you want to have any chance of understanding a recorded version of it later on.The sheer physicality and complexity of most of that music I had a chance to be exposed to at the SOH or here at Angel Place, make me absolutely convinced that you would have a hard time understanding any of these sometime haunting, often surprisingly beautiful and evocative - I was going to say romantic... - complex music. Seeing the interaction and non-verbal communication between the musicians is key to get a grasp on a music which often comes from the brain before connecting with the heart (Messiaen being the ultimate measure, as his compositions are based on pure mathematics...).
Thanks again to Terry for sharing his thoughts. Here is a relevant extract of our conversation:
JML: I was at a concert last night in Angel Place and heard Simon Tedeschi live for the first time,. We heard music from Strauss, Brahms, Mozart and Carl Vine, this being quite a revelation, and certainly way beyond my normal range of sonic interests. However, my experience of LIVE modern classical music over the last five years or so have given me a total new perspective on the genre. I actually think you cannot appreciate it from a recording, as the live experience brings you into the structure of the piece in a visual way that makes you appreciate it from the musician's point of view.
Terry replies: I must agree with you about the live experience. At times I've found myself enjoying performances of various forms of music which I would never normally consider listening to. Something about the palpability of the actual performer being right there with you. Plus the shared experience with other members of the audience. Not to mention a drink or two to lubricate the event. Oddly, when I listen to music at home I usually don't drink alcoholic beverages of any sort. Maybe I should...
And, BTW, I don't think wine consumption has anything to do with the experience, as I often do drink wine when listening to recorded (should I say bottled...) music!
You can buy this piece of music from iTunes as part of an album called: Carl Vine, Chamber Music 2 - I just did...
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.