Review: Chamber music at the Palladium

January 31, 2011
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I'm not ready to use the word "perfect" (a staple in the marketing message of the region's new concert hall) but, in my lifetime, I honestly don't expect to hear chamber music in a better sounding hall than I did Jan. 30th at the Palladium.

It helps, of course, when the players are as expert as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Miro Quartet, and Lynn Harrell.

CMS co-artistic director Wu Han and fellow pianist Inon Barnatan got things started with the familiar strains of "Rhapsody in Blue," sounding freshly minted as they played together on one piano. I appreciate the ushers' mandate to restrict latecomers from entering the hall during the piece, which kept the energy focused on George Gershwin's energetic masterpiece. (Although, given the trek from the parking garage, forgiveness can be granted)

For the second piece, Wu Han remained onstage, joined by violinist Arnaud Sussmann, violist Mark Holloway, and cellist Andreas Brantelid for Brahms' "Quartet in G Minor," in which the quartet coalesced beautifully, whether playing delicate, peaceful moments or revving up to an almost silent-movie-chase energy. The audience resisted applauding after the first movement, but went against protocol by clapping in between the rest (included: Center for the Performing Arts Artistic Director Michael Feinstein and Carmel Mayor James Brainard, who sat in opposite boxes and, to their credit, avoided lengthening the show with speeches).

The two pieces combined into a long first act, leading a noticeable number of audience members to leave at intermission. Still more who hung in for the second act performance by Miro Quartet and Lynn Harrell tried to discreetly bolt between movements--which was particularly noticeable in the behind-the-stage seating. 

Those who bailed, though, missed out on a seemingly effortless read of Schubert's "Cello Quintet in C Major." With his Bert Lahr visage and central placement on stage, Harrell had the air of a teacher whose students had excelled and become his peers. Violinists Daniel Ching and Sandy Yamamoto, violist John Largess, and cellist Joshua Gindele established a level of excellence that I look forward to seeing challenged—but don’t expect to see beat—in future events here.

In hindsight, the length of the afternoon concert was its only deficit. Either of the groups could have held the stage on its own with a satisfying two-hour experience. A half-hour beyond that was a bit trying even for those thrilled at the sounds being created.

Still, the bar has been set and the Palladium hype, in large part, justified. It sounds great to me.

Your thoughts

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  • skyhooks for parking
    the parking is nuts.! Does this get better in the future.?
  • Palladium
    You can thank the Taxpayers of Carmel for providing the palladium. Anyone can build a palladium as long as you have access to $160 Million of taxpayer money.
  • Proud of Carmel
    The Palladium is amazing and so is the Carmel revitalization! As a business owner and homeowner in Carmel I am so proud of what the city has done. It is fun to share with our out of town guests instead of being embarrassesd. I used to say to my visitings guests we really do live in a nice area it is just not reflected in the downtown. And we would take our guest somewhere else. It is fun to enjoy our tax dollars and at work and share our beautiful city with others! Carmel now reflects its demographic!
    • Get out then
      If you were not proud of Carmel and what it offered you and your cohorts should have left. Not pilfered 160 million dollars from the hardworking people of Carmel to build a monument to your desire to look rich and fancy to your friends. As a life long resident of Carmel I can honestly say i find the ostentatious display of spending and pseudo wealth going on in Carmel courtesy of James Brainless disgusting.
      • Carmel Taxes
        Better get your checkbook out, your taxes will be going up to pay for the Palladium and all the other crap that the Mayor has purchased. Watch your assessed value on your home too. If your tax rate is not raised, they will just inflate the value of your home beyond what you could sell it for.
      • An Enjoyable Afternoon
        We truly enjoyed the great performers and music, especially Schubert. I have a CD of the same pieces played by the famed Budapest String Quartet that doesn't come close to the sound of live instruments in an amazing concert hall where the nuances of the performers could be seen and heard. Hopefully we will be treated to more world class performers - as well as local talent such as the Indiana University Jacob's School Jazz Ensemble that performed last week.

        Parking and and a short walk were much better than the inconveniences (and panhandlers) of downtown or the long trips to Chicago, Cleveland or London to see comparable class performances.

        Thank you Mayor for your vision.

      • Loved it!
        Loved it! Loved it! Loved it! High-brow chamber music was spectacular. The acoustics were so good that I was afraid to rustle a thing for fear I would ruin the delicate sounds. So fantastic. I feel so blessed that this performance hall is just minutes from our home. What a wonderful addition to our community. Thank you to everyone who had a part in dreaming of, creating, building and producing this wonderful stage.
      • Wonderful.
        I loved Sunday's performance and found the acoustics to be excellent. I walked there so parking was not an issue. Regarding the audience, I did find myself a little frustrated that attendees did not refrain from clapping in between movements. It is also never appropriate to leave in the middle of a concert, between movements or otherwise.
      • Bravo
        The first concert at the Palladium was just breathtaking. This is a concert hall that was planned and built right. Months of interviews took place to understand fully what was missing in the concert venues of Central Indiana, and the Palladium fits in perfectly. The fact that the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and Cleveland Orchestra are coming in the first couple of months of the hall's existence are testament to that. I have usually had to drive to Chicago to hear visiting orchestras of that quality, and I must assume the lack of a dedicated concert hall was the reason. Bravo to Carmel's leadership over the past fifteen years - this is a defining edifice and a wonderful statement of understanding the importance of the fine arts.
      • I disagree
        As a resident of Carmel since the Ford administration, I could not disagree more with your assessment of the situation, The building of Carmel from a sleepy bedroom community to Indianapolis into a city in its own right is wonderful. A city is never standing still - it is either declining or improving itself. I am thrilled that Carmel has had leadership with the vision to keep the city on the upswing. The combination of a great public school system, a highly educated and motived citizenry and local politicians with the will and vision to make this happen has caused an positive inertia that will benefit all of us.
      • "you" who?
        CarmelMD,
        Thanks for your notes. But who are you indicating when you say "your assessment"? Are you reacting to something in the original blog post or in one of the responses? There are a lot of different opinions there.

        Also, FYI, the Cleveland Orchestra performanced --and was in residency-- at IU just a few weeks ago. Not quite as far away as Chicago.

        --Lou
        • Ignorance is Indeed Bliss!
          "It is fun to enjoy our tax dollars..."

          Good grief. We are so over.
        • P.R. Campaign
          Good to see Tangent or whatever they are called now are making their money by posting here.
        • Reply to Larsen & Lou
          Sorry - my comments were in response to Larsen. You are correct that the Cleveland Orchestra did perform at IU. In the time I have been an adult in Carmel, I can only remember getting to hear the Milwaukee Symphony at Circle (pre-Hilbert in early Leppard days). I am thrilled that the ISO is going to do some concerts at the Palladium as well as the terrific visiting orchestras. The quality of the concert hall really is a major attractions to fine classical performers, and Carmel is now in a position to attract the top level artists. I am happy that I will get to hear them, but also that our students will hear them and experience the Feinstein Archive, which will also attract outstanding researchers, educators and musicians.
        • Not Really...
          n an interview about coming to Carmel the Cleveland Orchestra's spokesman made it perfectly clear that acoustics etc. were not important with regard to where the Orchestra plays. Orchestras and other performers will perform where they are paid. The physical presence of Carmel's PAC will not "attract" any performers, only the $$$ will.

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