Magazine article The Spectator

The Old and the New

Magazine article The Spectator

The Old and the New

Article excerpt

The myriad performances of music in the different-sized venues that make up the classical-music season in New York can be a daunting assignment to summarise, both because no one can possibly hear more than a fraction of them and because of the variety of music being played. But perhaps this autumn can be satisfactorily, if not comprehensively, encompassed as the tale of an old performing entity and a new performing space.

The old performing entity is the New York Philharmonic, which performed The Amazing Stationary Round-Trip between Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall this summer, ending up where it started, but with much egg on its face. The Center has still not announced the scope and cost of its renovation efforts, which include the putative move of the New York City Opera out of the ballet theatre of the New York State Theater to a Ground Zero site as yet to be determined.

The new performing space is, in fact, an old one: part of the original design for Carnegie Hall, which called for a small performing venue in addition to the hall itself and its even smaller concert room (now Weill Hall). That space, facing Seventh Avenue, was lost to music performance early on, and became, for many years, a movie house. But private funding and several years of renovation (including blasting into the solid rock of subterranean Manhattan) resulted in Zankel Hall, which opened with much fanfare last September, with a capacity of 644.

The hall itself (which can be reconfigured with the performing space in the centre) is a welcoming presence - if well below street level - and, in keeping with most new halls today, is acoustically very live, so that instrumentalists and vocalists are tempted to explore extreme levels of pianissimo. Some have complained about the rumble of the underground trains directly underneath the hall, but having grown up with that sound suffusing Carnegie Hall (before several of its renovations) I have not been signally disturbed.

The Carnegie Hall management programmed a superior list of performances for the opening months, of which I especially enjoyed that of the amazing French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard's seemingly effortless (and scoreless) traversal of Messiaen's daunting Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jesus. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.