Berlin and New York are having a little love-in these days. It’s not just in the pages of the NYT, where gushing and usually (but not always) 66 percent fictional articles appear about the Wild Life In Berlin. The two cities are in the midst of a cultural interchange just now, swapping music and other performances at Important Cultural Venues, and I am unhappy to say I missed all of New York here.
But they like us over there on the other side. And it’s not just the romance. Well, it’s partly the romance; it’s impossible to read many articles without quickly finding references to the Weimar period, where Art and Sex and optimistic politics went hand in hand, even when all three were technically the same sex. (Of course that’s what sold me on this place too; how many expatriates here can’t claim some private love affair with the velvet-penned Herr Isherwood, or at least his cultural Caberet-ish offsprings.)
But no, it’s not just that. The NYT has much to say in the paper’s Berlin in Lights blog here, most of it very complimentary, about Berlin’s cultural ambassadors. Yet my favorite is the unrelated review of the Berlin Philharmonic by the very serious, very readable, very smart composer, writer and teacher Greg Sandow. A few excerpts:
The most astonishing thing about the Berlin players is that they move when they play. … Sometimes the entire section almost danced, each player in his own way… We hear that in Berlin, the Philharmonic attracts a younger audience, that there’s excitement at their concerts. And no wonder. It’s not because of marketing, or gimmicks. It’s because they’re exciting to hear, and also to see. You know they care. You know they’re excited by the music. You can see it. Carnegie Hall was electric with their presence, as it was with the young Venezuelans, but never is — just never — with most other orchestras.
That’s our local. We, or I, tend not to appreciate it enough, having an overwhelming surfeit of classical (and contemporary) music here. But they are not only good, they are world class, enough to make New York stand up and take notice. I need to spend more time at the Philharmonic.