From the latin invidia ("envy,
ill will"), one of the seven deadly sins.
Y'know what's great about the Musikverein in Vienna (Austria)? The audience. They know the score. People were clutching their chins, others were leaning forward in their seats when they weren't standing up (in the back row) craning for a better view, still others were rocking gently to the music with their eyes closed. When an audience listens attentively and with knowledge and love of the music it actively participates in the music making with the orchestra to the mutual benefit of both.
I mean in addition to the Musikverein being arguably the best sounding hall in the world. Put that together with the Vienna Philharmonic being arguably the best orchestra in the world and every music lover should make the pilgrimage to the Musikverein. C'mon people, it costs but a fraction of what you spent on your system. You owe it to yourself to experience the ultimate in music at least once in your life.
(The main auditorium of the Musikverein is the Grosser Saal. Sharing the same floor is the smaller Brahms Saal which is used for chamber concerts. To avoid the clumsy Grosser Saal of the Musikverein, the single word Musikverein is commonly used or it is also called the Golden Hall.)
Invidious Comparison, the
During highly emotional passages, Der Phil becomes a thunderous musical machine moving forward with irresistible force. I realize it is not all about volume otherwise we would all own horns. Oh wait, our fearless leader when last heard of had horns. Obviously tonal qualities are of the first order. What you hear with Der Phil in the Musikverein is incredible detail that you never heard before. But it is not a cold analytical sound. The Musikverein has a wonderful warm glow and this incredibly rich sonorous sound. Contributing to this is the cohesion in the strings. The Philharmoniker violin section sounds like a single giant instrument.
The Vienna Symphony is one of the world's great orchestras. They put the great in Schubert's great C Major Symphony. You should see them if you get the chance, but the Vienna Philharmonic is sui generis. It is the Patek Philippe of orchestras. Or if you prefer an automotive metaphor, the musical Ariel Atom.
Wikipedia says that a 2008 poll of music critics placed Der Phil behind the Concertgebouw and the Berlin Philharmonic. Some years ago, I heard the Berliners perform a Brahms Zyklus in the Musikverein under Abbado and I thought them shockingly inferior to Der Phil. It was not even close. The timpanist in particular fell short. At the climax of a symphony you need the tympani to provide the exclamation point that drives home the musical point, but the Berliner's timpany went off like a wet squibb. The Los Angeles Philharmonic under Dohnányi in Disney Hall had more impact than the Berliners in the Brahms Zyklus. It might be a case of on any given night an orchestra can be off, but I listened over a complete symphonic cycle. (I have never heard the Concertgebouw live so I cannot give an opinion on them.)
To get the full effect, Der Phil needs to be heard in the Musikverein playing a symphony by Beethoven, Brahms, or Bruckner. A full bodied piece like The Planets or Symphonie Fastastique is good too. Another orchestra in the Musikverein will only hint at what is possible. Likewise, Der Phil in a hall that is merely above average will only hint at its full capabilities. Did the introduction of women in 1997 change Der Phil's sound? No. The sound is as excellent as it ever was. In both of the concerts I heard, the concertmaster was a woman, Albena Danailova. Apropos of nothing she is Bulgarian.
I heard each orchestra twice. I heard each orchestra in both in the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus. By sheer luck, in the Kozerthaus performances the Symphonikers played the Dvořák Cello Concerto while the Philharmonikers played the Brahms Double both full-bodied pieces so a similarity in the color palette. The Symphonikers performed on a Saturday evening while the Philharmonikers gave their concert the next morning (Sunday) so it was almost like back to back performances. I was seated in about the same place in the hall for both performances giving about as close to a controlled comparison as you're going to get.
Tuesday 4th of
June, 2013 in the Musikverein
(Parterre is the main floor. Links is left. Reihe is row. This
is actually not the first row on the main floor there being three or four rows
with roman numerals in front. Platz is seat. This seat was close to the center.)
Friday, 7th of
June, 2013 in the Musikverein
Seat upper right corner of the balcony. I could not even see
the orchestra, but the sound was glorious nevertheless.
The above program of Brahms and Berlioz was repeated by Der
Phil in the Konzerthaus on Sunday, 9th of June, 2013.
of June, 2013 in the Konzerthaus
Invidious Comparison, The
And yet, and yet, a musician of the caliber of Pollini can fill the Konzerthaus to the rafters with his sound. It boggles the mind what he would sound like in a smaller, more intimate venue like the Brahms Saal of the Musikverein. At this point in his life, when you go to a Pollini concert you do not hear a performance so much as you witness a probing thrilling search for musical truth. The physical laying of hands on to the ivories is a sideshow to the intellectual and emotional quest. His playing is limpid as an alpine stream. He guides you through the most complex passages making them simple and straightforward. He improvises like a jazz musician. His transcendent technique allows him to follow the music wherever it wants to go.
At this point in his life, Pollini doesn't play, he channels
the music. The phrase that comes irresistibly to mind is Tolkien's wonderful perceive
the unimaginable hand and mind o fFëanor at work.
Pollini's program for
Tuesday 11th of June, 2013 in the Konzerthaus:
Invidious Comparison, The
Performances in the
of June, 2013
Monday, 10th of
I paid for all tickets myself ordering online as you would. I
received no discounts or consideration of any kind from any of the entities