Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Symphonic Halls in Paris

As Mr Downey notes in a recent blog, Paris is to be graced with not one, not two, but three new - or newly renovated - concert halls: The Salle Pleyel, due to re-open this September, a new concert hall for Radio France, and yet another at Cité de la Musique.

Such investment in the arts is very welcome and one hopes that the best-laid plans are not laid to waste by the black art of acoustics.

We’ll discover what’s become of the Salle Pleyel at the end of the summer, but the existing concert hall at Cité de la Musique is acoustically utterly unremarkable, and the Salle Olivier Messiaen - the largest studio at Maison de Radio France - has the musty, tired, characterless sound so common to radio studios - although I can see the benefit of having a sort of blank slate – it's like a fashion model - not very interesting, but adaptable.

However, one might have hoped that more would be made of the Salle Gaveau, (click here to view) which has only 15 concerts in March, 6 in April and 5 so far in May. If it were run along the lines of the Wigmore Hall, it would be a real boon to chamber music in Paris.

Even the Salle Cortot, designed by Auguste Perret, [architect of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées] and which according to Cortot, “sounds like a Stradivarius” has a busier season – although as part of the Ecole Normale de Musique it seems to be tied up with student activities much of the time.

top left - Salle Pleyel 2003 (going on 1970) ~ centre left - Cité de la Musique ~ bottom right- Salle Cortot


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