October 30, 2008

Jazz is Jazz; No Matter What Language You Speak.

I noticed last weekend when Kathy and I had come back to Barcelona that there were banner ads all over the city for the Barcelona Jazz Festival. I noticed it mostly because I liked their logo for the event and then noticed it more when I saw a few banners specifically advertising for certain musical acts. One that caught my eye was Herbie Hancock; who I don’t know much about but do know that I like his music very much. I found a pamphlet for the festival in the city and found not only was Herbie playing while I would still be here in Barcelona (the event runs through the end of November) but he was playing at the ONE theater I had been wanting to go to, Palau de la Música Catalana! This theater has been on my list of places to go and see since before I even left New York; after seeing a few pictures of it in my guidebook it was enough to draw me there. I had seen the outside of it and thought it was incredible as it is so over the top and was designed by modernist architect Lluís Domenach i Montaner. From everything I had read and heard, the best way to experience it was not to take the 10 Euro tour but to actually hear a concert; as it was meant to be enjoyed together – the design and the music.

The day I went to the Miró museum I ended up fortuitously walking by the concert hall and decided to see if there were any inexpensive tickets left, and low and behold there were! So Thursday night I headed to the Palau de la Música and might have to say it was the best musical/visual experience I have ever had. Though the exterior is amazing, the interior of the building from the foyer to the bar/restaurant to the stairs to of course the MAIN concert hall was not without detail. I sat up on the second (and highest) tier which still got me a view of the stage (sort of, as long as the guy in front of me didn’t move too much) though I didn’t see much of the guitarist without standing.

The entire hall had mosaic tiling in pinks and greens and yellows, the centerpiece was a huge stained-glass reverse bulb-looking piece covered in various-shaped circles, the windows were all stained glass flowers, the columns at the sides were white trencadis with green tiled vines sweeping up where they met the ceilings in sweeping arcs which looked like peacock feathers, the stage was flanked on one side by marble sculptured horses looking like they were flying into centerstage and the other side by enormous leaves, the back of the arched stage was done in reddish/pink tile with marble sculpture coming out of the wall in between green and yellow ribbon-like tiling, and the sides of the hall had metalworked chandeliers hanging sideways with three different shaped bulbs sprouting from it in between green diamond-shaped tiles. Ahhh, I could go on but you will be bored and want to just to see pictures which unfortunately I only have these two above. Not only are you really not allowed to take pictures inside but my camera batteries had died earlier and I had forgotten to buy new ones before going!

The Herbie Hancock Quintet (Herbie on the piano, a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and…a harmonica-ist!) played for almost three hours and were incredible. I also loved that his talk in between songs was English peppered with some Spanish words so I understood everything. I can’t imagine having seen this crazy piece of architecture without hearing the music to go along with it so I will recommend to you if in Barcelona, go to a concert there and see and hear it for yourself.

No comments: