London Philharmonic at the Esplanade

This evening, I walked from my office at South Bridge Road, to the Esplanade – to listen to one of the world’s best orchestras play Beethoven and Bruckner. The former was standard Beethoven, nothing particularly catchy. The latter was much more forceful and foreboding, and I could almost imagine it featuring in the next episode of Lord of the Rings.
The orchestra was fantastic. Not an instrument was out of sync. Half the hall gave a standing ovation. Pity I didn’t get tickets to the previous day’s performance, when they performed my all-time favourite, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major. I think I would have enjoyed that even more.
The acoustics of the concert hall were close to perfect. The durian shell looks big on the outside but is actually cosy on the inside, with four levels of stalls. This evening, a large circular panel of lights and speakers was suspended near the stage, presumably to be retracted (after each performance) into the round cavity in the ceiling directly above it. Neat. Everything sounded crystal-clear, with no echo. I was also happy that nobody clapped in between the movements. We’ve come a long way.
Alongside the Berlin Orchestra, the London Philharmonic is probably the best I’ve heard in a very long time. Ahem. What spoilt the mood slightly for me, was when the conductor Kurt Masur was presented with flowers. Firstly, they weren’t very spectacular – something you could’ve picked up immediately at the florist’s – and the lady presenting the flowers had the word ’employee’ all over her attire. I would have removed the white work pass dangling from my neck, worn something nicer and presented the flowers with a flourish to the acclaimed conductor. Then again, maybe that’s just how I would have wanted to do it.
After the performance, my dad and I headed downstairs for a late dinner. Nothing really caught our fancy (though I might give the Spanish place a try next time), so we dined at Senses, which had the usual Western menu. The French onion soup was very good, but my pan-baked seafood spaghetti in a tomato ‘fusion sauce’ turned out to be nothing more than breaded calamari rings and prawns, with a few chopped onions and peppers, smothered in a Chinese sweet and sour sauce. And a pool of undrained liquid beneath the pasta, a la Singapour. Never EVER try it.
Lastly, I like the car park system at the Esplanade. It works exactly like an ERP gantry, so you don’t even have to wind down your window. 🙂


  1. Jia

    Heeeey I was at the Splade too listening to the London Philharmonic! I really enjoyed the concert, particularly the second movement of Bruckner, but felt it was a leetle long. But then again, that’s just me, I find it hard to sit still for more than 45 minutes. Yep I really liked the concert hall; very pretty, and did you see the view of the merlion and city skyline from the foyer? Not too shabby! At least some of that $600 million didn’t go to waste! 😛

  2. vantan

    Hey, I didn’t see you! Where were you seated? I was somewhere in the middle, centre … a few rows in front of Teo Chee Hian and Tommy Koh 😉

  3. vantan again

    And yes, the view outside was beautiful. The Merlion was so brilliant, I wish I’d brought my digital camera that evening. But inside, the grinning male mime dummies lining the passageways were VERY disturbing.

  4. Jia

    Oh my gosh yes hahaha I found those male dummies a hoot! What’s with the hands over their crotches?? They looked like they had been kicked in the..aah…nether regions. heehee.
    Oh I was sitting somewhere further back in the stalls, on the right side if you’re facing the stage. I booked tickets pretty late so those were the best I could get. But I have to say our seats were pretty good, had a great view of the orchestra.

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