Monday, March 1, 2010

Carnegie Hall Partial View

The result is in regarding what it is like to listen to symphonies with only a partial view at Carnegie Hall. Pretty darn good. Our partial view was in the uppermost balcony to the far left facing the stage. We could see about half the orchestra (with a particularly good view of the horn section and the lone tuba player) but we had to lean way over to catch a glimpse of the conductor or the soloist for the Chopin Piano Concerto. The work in the second half was a rousing Brahms' Second Symphony. But it's true that the sound is so rich and so beautifully enhanced by the Hall's excellent acoustics that just sitting there and not looking at all at what the musicians are doing is enough. We have had a fair amount of experience in Carnegie Hall's main hall - now called Isaac Stern Auditorium - but only with chamber works that are too small to take full advantage of the hall's sonic possibilities. These symphonic works filled the whole auditorium with great force and left us delighted with what we heard.

One of my favorite parts of the afternoon, though, was watching the lonely tuba player, whom, as I indicated, we were able to make out clearly without any leaning. He raised his magnificent instrument a few times during the Brahms, which must have been very satisfying for him, but when they did Beethoven's Egmont Overture as an encore, he had to sit there motionless with his trusty tuba by his side. Who becomes a tuba player these days anyway? What does he practice? And where? Does he get paid the same amount as the violinists? And how does his instrument affect his travel plans? Does he have to buy an extra seat for it?

At any rate, as I yank myself away from this tuba tangent, I just want to conclude by reiterating we had a fine time mainly hearing and hardly seeing. Keeping the focus on great live audio turned out to be a pleasant change.

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