18 January 2013
If you love classical music, you want to listen to top quality concerts in opulent surroundings but don’t want to spend a single penny, then you can have this in a breeze in Paris! That’s what I just experienced the other day – and regularly experiencing, in fact – thanks to the Association of Jeunes Talents which organizes free (as well as chargeable) concerts around prestigious places in the capital.
I am an avid fan of the association and have been following their concerts at Petit Palais but it was just recently that I learned about their other venue – the Hotel de Soubise in Archives Nationales in the heart of the Marais. Naturally, as one who is deeply passionate in seeing the interiors of French architectural masterpieces, this is a chance I should not miss.
The concert was held at the Chambre du Prince (Prince Salon) where elegance and refinery are a great feast to the senses!
You get in there hoping to lift your spirits with beautiful music but you get more than what you expected! The beautiful decorations around you are more than enough to feed your whole being, pressing you to cry,”Thank heavens, I live in Paris!”
The performer that day is a very talented lady, Hélène Diot, only aged 25, and is already a winner of numerous international competitions! She played the harpsicord with fingers so light they are almost floating above the keys!
Incidentally, when watching a concert, particularly if the instrument being used is a piano – or a harpsicord in this case – you are better off sitting on the side where you can see the musician’s fingers hitting the keyboard as that is how you will get to appreciate the performance better.
The harpsichord was probably invented in the late Middle Ages. Like a piano, it is played by means of a keyboard but the sound is produced by plucked strings that are activated when you press the keys. It was widely used in Renaissance and Baroque music and is now making a revival.
It looks like a piano but its oddly long shape differentiates it from a piano.
This luxurious chandelier had me counting the candle-like lights while listening to the music. How many – there are actually 12 in total!
The Hotel de Soubise is a 14th century manor house which changed ownership several times until it was acquired by the State and made it the official headquarters of the Archives Nationales. Some rooms like this Salon du Prince are used for expositions and concerts.
Such splendour and beauty!
Marble fireplaces, gilded mirrors, ornately designed panels, the murals on the walls…all these built and decorated by Boffrand from 1735.