A Night At The Concert
For the 2017 Orient Express some “extra” cultural activities have been included on several of the rest days. To everyone’s delight an evening at the Sala Terrana, listening to a string quartet playing the music of Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart was the plan for our second night in Vienna.
Vienna was home to quite a few famous composers in the 18th – 19th centuries, such as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schuber, the Strauss family, Brahms to name a few, and with over 15,000 classical music events scheduled every year, it is still considered the world’s capital of classical music. The concert we attended is part of the events organized by the Mozarthaus museum, the building also being the former home of the famous composer himself from 1784 to 1787. The museum is located in the center of the old town and displays audio-video information about the composer, preserved rooms that were occupied by him and houses a concert hall in the basement though it was not our venue for the evening. We were headed one block away for our show.
Entering the Sala Terrana hall at SingerStrabe 7, the address of the 14th Church of St. Elizabeth, one can imagine what a young Mozart felt and saw as he would arrive to play for the Bishop Colloredo in 1781 A theme of grandeur and opulence is felt before one even enters the concert hall. The ornate and colorful Viennese architecture frames all sides of the old town streets and piercing towers of St Stephen’s Cathedral loom above. The Sala Terrana, now the oldest concert hall in Vienna, is painted quite contrastingly to the Teutonic church which houses it. The motif on the wall depict scenes of pagan mythology, satyrs and nymphs enthralled in hedonic pleasures, fluttering cherubs and scenes of nudity all around. To quote the program guide provided for the concert, “the purpose of the hall, a place of pleasure for body and soul”. Maybe none of us had the lofty Rennesaince ideal of elevating our souls that evening but there was plenty of pleasure for our ears.
The vault like hall had perfect acoustics and made the brilliant performance feel like it was completely surrounding you. You could distinctly hear every instrument, every slight vibrato, the deep inhales of the players as they would prepare for another powerful allegro, even the rasping of the cello players fingers on the strings. Haydn’s String quartet in Dminor, Beethoven’s in Cminor and Mozart’s quartet in Dminor was the lineup for evening, and would receive a full standing ovation at the end of the hour and half performance. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of the classical genre or the composers mentioned, an evening at the Sala Terrana is still highly recommended, simply to experience the highly refined quality of the performance and the venue.
After the applause the players exited as promptly as they entered and left us on the warm balmy evening to slowly meander back to the hotel through the surprisingly quiet streets of Vienna.