July 04, 2009

Zaha Hadid, Piotr Anderszewski, JS Bach

Zaha Hadid: "The Aim: to create a near-perfect environment for the audience to experience some of the world's most beautiful chamber music." Putting the strangeness of aiming for near perfection rather than actual perfection down as clumsy copy in the publicity, this ambition was repeated by the Festival Director at the launch event; with such pronouncements, you make the claim you get measured by it. Comparing a real photograph with the image on the MIF website http://www.mif.co.uk/events/js-bach-zaha-hadid/ there is a bit of disconnect between computer generation and real construction. There is a lack of drama in entering the environment because you come in from the side and the views that are included in publicity are actually impossible because the construct is packed into a gallery space. The impression you get when you sit down is you are in a cross between sets from Star Trek Next Generation and the 1967 Casino Royale movie. Sue pointed out that there is a reason why it was called chamber music and why chambers tend to be carpeted with upholstered furniture is accoustics. The Hadid form doesn't soften the hollow accoustics of a gallery, and without enough height in the room the sound was oddly harsh and deadened at the same time. This was supplemented with a continuous hum from the air conditioning and ever un-muffled fidget of the audience. For the 'sweeping' form itself, the realities of construction made it more like kite or carnival modelling. With the best will in the world, the computer just couldn't make angles slide into curves, and some of the detailing is very clumsy (pictured).

When Bach was played in the space, an aesthetic problem reared up: "...carving out a spatial and visual response to the intricate relationships of Bach's musical harmonies": sadly not. Juxtaposed with the Baroque master, the environment makes you think that the structure is the visual response to something more superficially romantic, Elgar maybe.

Piotr Anderszewski: his interpretation and his playing of two Partitas and the English Suite were imbalanced. In interpretation, he seemed to be driven by musical detail so that larger ideas in the works drifted in and out, sometimes disappearing altogether. In his playing his right hand is much stronger than his left so it had the feel of a stereo where one of the speakers is losing power.

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