Monday, October 26, 2015

Feel Grateful, Londoners

An article in the Guardian talks about Simon Rattle's upcoming return to the London Symphony Orchestra, discusses the soon-to-be-announced feasibility study for a new venue, and complains about existing London concert halls.

Sir Simon isn't making a new hall any kind of requirement for taking up the post (good), but there's been moaning about the Barbican Concert Hall and Royal Festival Hall (Southbank Centre) for a good long time.

I heard concerts in both halls last year, and all I can say is, everyone with complaints should join me for concerts at Davies Symphony Hall, where the San Francisco Symphony plays, and Zellerbach Hall, where a number of visiting orchestras and the Berkeley Symphony perform. The latter really is the definition of a concrete monster; a brutalist building set in a brutalist section of a beautiful campus, with absolutely dead acoustics that even a Meyer Sound Constellation system can't tame. Davies has been renovated and was improved by the renovations, but it isn't what I'd call a really good-sounding hall. It is easy to overload and singers in particular have a tough time there unless they have gigantic voices. I'm thinking of the Christine Brewer/Stephanie Blythe/Dolora Zajick class of gigantic here.

The Barbican and RFH are heaven compared to both of these venues. Come visit and I'll prove it to you.

1 comment:

Immanuel Gilen said...

I agree Zellerbach is at the absolute bottom of this list, but I would take Davies over the Barbican or RFH any day.