This was such an unusual hall, I wanted to show you photos. I'm pasting my review, because it doesn't appear to be on our Web site yet:
DÜSSELDORF – It may be one of the oddest concert halls in the world, but it's also one of the best-sounding in all of Germany. On Monday evening, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performed its final German tour concert in Düsseldorf's famous Tonhalle, situated directly on the Rhine.
The audience, which was attentive and engaged, erupted in bravos following Paavo Järvi and the orchestra’s performance of Schubert's Symphony No. 9, "The Great." Even after the musicians played two encores, the crowd stood and wouldn't let them go.
The Tonhalle was originally built as a planetarium in 1926, which explains its unusual round shape and domed roof. The city made it a concert hall in the '70s.
The Cincinnati Symphony last played here in 1995, but few people recalled that it had such excellent acoustics. In fact, this turned out to be one of the most beautiful-sounding spaces of the 12-city European tour. The Tonhalle underwent a major renovation in 2005, and clearly the architects got it right.
Its circular public area is a maze of stairways leading up to the auditorium, as if climbing into a bowl. At intermission, people jammed the bars on the balconies, or promenaded the circle down below.
The theater, seating about 1,900, had some empty seats, but it was, nevertheless, a fine turnout for a Monday. Sitting in the Tonhalle is a bit like being inside a giant blue egg, with small lights strategically sprinkled about to simulate the night sky. The seating sloped down to the orchestra, which was surrounded by light wood.
Mozart's Overture to "The Marriage of Figaro" was resonant yet clear, and the musicians sounded superb, even though they had performed the previous two nights in Hamburg and Dortmund.
Tour soloist Janine Jansen charmed again with her warmth, spontaneity and enormous beauty of tone in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. Besides dazzling technique she has the ability to transport the listener by communicating her genuine joy for the music.
One of the other joys of this performance was the glowing sound of the winds in this space. Järvi anticipated Jansen’s every move, and the collaboration was seamless.
What followed was possibly the finest performance of Schubert's Great C Major Symphony so far on this tour. Järvi's tempos were unhurried and beautifully paced, and the musicians played their hearts out. The string ensemble has become so unified as to sound as one instrument. The trombones and horns glowed and orchestral soloists played expressively.
Järvi’s view was lyrical, yet depth, drama and spontaneity were always present. The audience cheered its approval, and then held its collective breath through the encores: Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5 and Sibelius' "Valse Triste."
"Ach, dass war schön," (Ah, that was beautiful), sighed one woman, as she left.
In the audience were guests of Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, including representatives from the offices of the Mayor of Düsseldorf and the United States Consulate General, as well as local industry leaders.
After a day off on Tuesday, the orchestra bids "Auf wiedersehen" to cold, rainy Germany and heads down the home stretch to Spain.