Happy new year, rabbit rabbit, everyone. I just tore apart the most delicious döner sandwich here in Berlin, where the inimitable David Kaplan and I are re-tackling Shy and Mighty. We’ve been holing up at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule (whose logo actually did fool me into thinking it was a bad steakhouse) where I derive pleasure from playing long stretches of repeated minor chords while our neighbors practice Bach and Chopin.
The closest I’ve found to contemporary music here was watching the Philharmonic (with Mehta) rehearse Carter’s Three Illusions. Who knew that even the Berlin Philharmonic struggles to keep Carter’s unpredictable hockets from spinning off into oblivion? They had less trouble with Strauss and Beethoven (backing up Murray Perahia, who played with impeccable limpidness. No, really, that’s actually how he played!). I just wanted a behind-the-scenes tour of their recording setup; there were something like 40 microphones hanging over the stage, which were controlled by a tech wielding a boom-box-sized remote.
I love the Berlin subway system. Somehow the lack of turnstiles makes it seem that much easier to hop on and off (passengers are instead subjected to random ticket inspections on board). There are LED displays at many stations that tell you how many minutes until the next two trains (though the older, flip-card ones are more beautiful, if not as useful). I (often) wonder if anyone at MTA reads this blog.