Friday, February 18, 2005

Sometimes channel-swapping can be productive. Yesterday after watching "The Simpsons" Emil and I were just zapping through, when we stopped briefly at the PBS channel. It was the "Charlie Rose Show" and the guest seemed to be a rather genial man with an adorable Italian accent (with a slight French twang). We lingered on, interested by what appeared to be a discussion on urban spaces. And then they showed his name. It was Renzo Piano!

Now never having been a student of architecture I have a hard time keeping up with big name architects. I know of Frank O Gehry, but then it's hard not to be aware of Gehry's work living in LA. Actually, ever since I moved here, I've been an enthusiastic follower of the then-still-in-construction and now-finished Disney Concert Hall. On too many occasions, I've begged S to take Grand Ave. back after a pho trip to Chinatown. The Disney Hall, the new Cathedral, MOCA and the California Plaza, there's a lot of interesting architecture within the distance of a few metres. S just tags along for the joyride of the steep drop in Grand after MOCA :)

I had heard of Piano in context with classroom discussions of the Potsdamerplatz project in Berlin, which was a revitalization project involving corporate big names for the core of the city. I attended a presentation made by a German architect and Berliner who was none too pleased with the architecture which seemed to have a placeless, global quality to it, and spoke to nothing within the existing urban fabric of Berlin. Of course, the Potsdamerplatz revitalization consists of many different projects, and each project had a different architect firm associated with it. Piano was responsible for only about two of those and I honestly don't remember if this German lady was critical of Piano's work or not.

Anyway, Emil and I thoroughly enjoyed the hour long discussion between Rose and Piano. Rose is a fabulous interviewer and never lets his personality overshadow his subject. And Piano was a treat. He is very articulate, and speaks beautifully. I loved how he managed to straddle discussions of beauty as an intense emotion as well as discussing the importance of innovation in construction materials and techniques for architects. I don't know how he is in his daily life, but he came across as someone who was genuinely passionate about his work and thinks both intellectually and practically about it. And then he endeared himself to S (who later joined us) by revealing that he was a boat designer as well and every decade or so designs a sailboat using innovative new materials. That seemed like his little personal treat, he had such a twinkle in his eye when he talked about it.

Right now, I'm trying to go through a report, and fortifying myself for it by listening to some Bach. I went through all the Brandenburg Concertos and decided I liked the 3rd one the best. Of course, Emil, my resident Bach conneisseur thinks that the Double Violin Concerto (not part of the Brandenburg series) is the most complex work, which it probably is. But then what does ignorant me know! I wouldn't be able to tell A minor from F major. And then I switched over to sentimental favourite Mozart's 25th symphony. When I was in India of course I had only one reason to listen to it (and anyone who was in India in the late 80s and early 90s would know what I'm on about). But later, I saw Amadeus, and the 25th just dominates the score. And that's when I discovered the other dimension of the 25th which was so intense, powerful.

4 Comments:

Blogger the still dancer said...

Yeah, even my introduction to Mozart was through the "world of titan."
But the final movement is probably the highlight of the symphony.
As for Brandenburg, the fifth concerto is probably the most profound of the series- surreal and strangely impressionistic. Listen for the intricate harp passages. Like the hazes of a dream.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Hmm.. ar ki khobor? Was the weekend fun?

12:47 PM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Hmm, I didn't find what I wanted from Cost Plus so I ended up getting the usual standby - candles and a glass thingummyjig to hold junk around the sink.
As for the Lindt, kalke chocolate mood e chhilam na (is that even possible??) - noile kintum - they also have the nice dark chocolate version of Cadbury's chocolate fingers. Yummy!

3:12 PM  
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11:42 PM  

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