A Concert to watch out for

Daniel Barenboim in action

By pure chance while we were in Berlin, I caught the tail-end of the Berlin Philharmonic’s 2010 Europa Concert, which came from the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. All I got to see was the final ten minutes or so of the concluding item in the concert, which was Brahms’s First Symphony. The performance was exceptional, an experience to treasure for anyone lucky enough to have been there, and these ten minutes were enough to convince me to watch out for the DVD and to buy it when it becomes available. I would urge everyone else to do the same, or at the very least to check TV schedules for the eventual broadcast on BBC.

In the mean time may I refer you to a glowing review by Tom Service in The Guardian. The review refers to one highly unusual aspect of the occasion, which was that the physical dimensions and layout of the venue required the orchestra to be positioned on the floor of the hall rather than on a platform. The effect must have been astonishing for the audience.

5 thoughts on “A Concert to watch out for”

  1. Barenboim has recorded the Brahms with the Chicago Orchestra, and when I brought one piece to music group it did not cause any strong comment.
    When the fog clears from the channel the cited music critic should take a coach to view any of the many Greek or Roman theatres in southern Europe or Asia Minor where the players/musicians were on the floor and the listeners rose obove them. On his return journey he might even visit the Philharminie in Berlin to confirm that this concept is well established in the modern world!

  2. I’m not sure it’s relevant to compare a recording with another orchestra with this live concert with the Berlin Phil. Even through the little speaker in Peter’s little TV set, the sense of occasion and of inspired music-making came through.

    As to the placing of the orchestra, let’s wait until seeing the DVD to decide if there was anything unusual. It certainly caught my attention on TV.

  3. Of course a recorded version cannot be compared to “live”. Barenboim’s approach would be very similar if not identical. The Sheldonian is a unique venue with its own accoustic which may be perfect. My main point was that placing the orchestra on the floor would not be that unusual and the sound would be better from above. It is surely one of the reasons why the sound in the Berlin Phil is so good. That’s why I am always to be found upstairs in the Concert Hall.

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