A more open Barbican…

Written by: Colin Anderson

Yes, the acoustic has opened up, the sound now moves off the platform into the audience. An improvement? Yes, and rather more than I was expecting. It’s not perfection though. Essentially, the sound is more dynamic and detail is clearer. There’s a welcome focus on instruments, without unnatural colour being added, and a tangibility that removes listening barriers between audience and performers.

In the opening two concerts of its season, the LSO offered Mozart piano concertos and Elgar symphonies. The former had more immediacy than one has grown accustomed to in this Hall; the latter’s complexity of expression and scoring reported an improved orchestral blend and a resolution that was palpable.

Doubts? Maybe the new-found vibrancy doesn’t allow really quiet playing to register. I suspect also that a lack of resonance will worry some more than it does me. Yet, there is something too level about the acoustic that might become increasingly troublesome – in other words, a greater sense of a ’front-to-back’ perspective may need to be effected. That said, if these are faults, they are faults in the right direction.

Writing as someone who prizes clarity, presence and openness, the aural picture the Barbican Hall now offers is attractive and welcoming.

  • David Wordsworth reviews the opening LSO concerts of the season – click hear to read
  • Duncan Hadfield also reports on the new acoustic – click here
  • Photographs by Rob Moore

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