It’s springtime – it must finally be Paris!

It’s springtime – it must finally be Paris!

When is a hotel room not a hotel room?  When it’s an instrument lock-up room, of course.  This bedroom is well populated with an array of mainly stringed instruments awaiting players to claim them for an afternoon practice session.

Instrument room

One feature often found in concert halls here is a pipe organ built into one of the walls of the stage.  The decorative external ranks and the ornate case of this pipe organ in Basel looms grandly over the brass section of the PSO.

Since many European city plans were laid out when transportation was either by foot, horseback or carriage, the streets here (especially in the older parts of town) can be very narrow.  Diminutive “Smart” cars are very popular here for that reason, and even the street cars have an almost toy-like size.

An unexpected bonus at the hotel in Basel were the espresso machines in some of the rooms and hallways.  The hotel staff kept the stations well stocked with a supply of coffee pods, and the coffee-loving members of the Orchestra kept the machines busy!

The Orchestra took a high-speed train from Stuttgart to Paris which left and arrived with precise punctuality, with only two or three stops en route.  This magnificent ironwork decoration graces the end of the platform cover in Strasbourg.  The trip through the farmland south of Paris was exhilarating, the train reaching an estimated speed of 198 miles per hour, data obtained from a PSO member who brought a GPS along on the trip!

A quintessential Paris street scene, the buildings of uniform height and architectural style, most displaying iron window decoration, and the street cobbled in a shell pattern.

Tonight’s venue, the Salle Pleyel, was the brain child of the composer and pianist Ignace Pleyel and his son.  Built near the turn of the 20th century, its architecture reflects the Art Deco style.

Inside, the Pleyel hall staff is briefed before the concert.

Salle Pleyel’s front lobby displays the clean, balanced lines of Art Deco influence.

Pleyel et Cie. were (and still are) makers of fine pianos.  The keyboard of this concert grand glistens in the stage lights.

The Pleyel pianos were distinguished as being the first manufactured with steel frames, seen here and looking like an Art Deco masterpiece itself!  This instrument will be used in the Shostakovich 5th Symphony tonight, and the lid of the piano has been removed so the instrument will blend and project from its position on stage.

The Orchestra has a short rehearsal before the concert, helpful in assessing the acoustic properties of the auditorium.  Contra bassoonist Jim Rogers somehow manages a smile while he warms up!

Concertmaster Andres Cardenes has a laugh with a colleague before the rehearsal.

The foreshortening of the camera lens emphasizes the close quarters on stage at Salle Pleyel, both in the winds…

…and in the string section.

The stage is comprised of many movable riser sections which can be tailored to the ensemble which is performing.  On the very top riser are the timpani, manned by Chris Allen…

…and the low brass section.  Craig Knox’s tuba is quite impressive from this angle!

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