February 2012

Music

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti Visit San Francisco: Honegger: Pacific 231, Bates: Alternative Energy, Franck: Symphony in D-minor

Choose wisely what and how you imitate.... This may be the composer's lesson to take away from last Tuesday's much anticipated San Francisco visit by the Chicago Symphony, led by Riccardo Muti. Though Muti's program concluded traditionally, with the Franck Symphony in D-minor, the first half of his concert was devoted to two pieces which undertake, with differing levels of success, the engineering of musical expression through depiction.
Art

Marcel Storr, bâtisseur visionnaire, English Version

One draws cities for practical and for visionary reasons. Whatever they may draw as preparation, usually builders are preoccupied with cities that can be built and lived in. As in New York, where there is not much difference between the drawings of Hugh Ferriss and the Chrysler or Empire State buildings, in Paris the difference between the visionary city and the one which exists is less clear than in other places. Haussmann’s projects were, for better and worse, the personal dreams of an imagination pierced by perfect boulevards. The Haussmannian approach was a response to practical needs which nonetheless expressed a very particular aesthetic, more even than the projects completed by Robert Moses in New York. The transformations which took place in Paris under the Second Empire, or even some of the grands travaux of the 1980s, were not far from the drawings of a visionary such as Marcel Storr. Consider the Bibliothèque François Mitterand, a strange building all the stranger for pretending to be rationalist. Once built these projects show us the joys and perils of visionary urbanism.
Art

Marcel Storr, Bâtisseur visionnaire, version française

On dessine les villes pour des raisons pratiques ou visionnaires. D’habitude, les “bâtisseurs” se préoccupent des villes qu’on peut bâtir, où on peut vivre. Comme à New York, où il n’y a pas de différence significative entre les dessins de Hugh Ferriss et les tours Chrysler ou Empire State, à Paris la différence entre la ville existante et la ville visionnaire est peut-être moins nette qu’ailleurs. Les interventions de Haussmann étaient, pour le mieux et pour le pire, des rêves personnels d’une imagination percée par les boulevards parfaits. La démarche Haussmanienne était une réponse aux des exigences pratiques, mais elle exprimait une esthétique très personnelle, encore plus que les projets de Robert Moses à New York. Paris comme elle fut transformée pendant le Second Empire, ou même certains des grands projets parisiennes des 1980s ne sont pas trop loin des dessins d’un visionnaire comme Marcel Storr. Considérez La Bibliothèque François Mitterand, un édifice d’autant plus bizarre pour son rationalisme simulé. Une fois bâtis ces projets montrent les joies et les périls de l’urbanisme visionnaire.
Music

Blomstedt Returns to the San Francisco Symphony in Tchaikovsky and Bruckner Fifths; Garrick Ohlsson Plays Mozart Piano Concerto K. 271

Imagine an apocryphal New Yorker magazine cover depicting an evening at the symphony. Onstage sits the pianist, a tall figure in black, motionless at his instrument but for the whir of fingers. The lacquered piano lid conceals a conductor's head and body, but black arms and a baton poke sideways from it, indicating his presence. The audience is attentive and faces forward. But somewhere near row X, a grey-haired woman lies prostrate on her back, motionless in the aisle. Nobody seems to notice, except for a patron a few rows beyond. His head is turned sideways and one eyeball bulges with amazement and alarm. That eyeball is mine.
Architecture | Urban Design

La France en relief at the Grand Palais (English Version)

Architecture students quickly learn the value of a good model. Although nothing expresses the true intention of a design as well as a model, especially for the general public, the life of a model is often sad and brief. After the big presentation day, the little pieces of cardboard and wood, so carefully carved during too many all-nighters, begin to deteriorate in closets and attics. Models are too delicate for a world built at 1:1. Once dust starts to appear, the garbage can soon follows.
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