Carnegie Hall in NYC (NOT Avery Fisher Hall, never had a good seat there, maybe)
NJPAC in Newark NJ
in Vienna (my favorite)
Hill Auditorium (Ann Arbor)
Smetana Hall in Prague
I agree, where you are seated can have an impact on the sonic experience. As in a stereo system, most halls/PACs have their "sweet spots".
Perhaps part of the "recorded music" experience it the ability to listen to it again. I have memories of great live experiences and can remember them, but cannot listen to them again....sigh.
That's a true statement about recorded music, but often there is magic at a live concert that just can't be duplicated in a studio session. That's why lI like a lot of recordings of live performances.
Fillmore East and, Tower Theatre in Philly. I like smaller venues.
I’ve been to many great halls and I apologize that this is slightly off topic, but there is nothing that compares to a great set at the Village Vanguard
Or even Sweet Basil's, The Rainbow Room, The Blue Note, and that list could go on. Some great places in other countries. It is interesting that some of the buildings I have been in in Europe are older than our country. A man I did business with in Denmark wanted me to come to a dinner at his "Mom's"....her "place" was more of a castle than a house. She had 4 people serving the meal to about 20+ guests.
But throughout time, I have seen the fact that money doesn't care who has it....bet you can think of a few examples.
There is good concert hall in NYC? I meant, seriously?
Carnegie Hall is from average to dreadful. Try sitting at the left orchestra around 20 rows from stage, 10 seats from the left wall. The reverb is a total disgrace when performing Mahler.
Fisher (David Geffen) is as bad as a high school auditorium. It is a miracle that some of the greatest performers are still willing to perform there.
Vienna State Opera is an acoustic marvel, among the absolute best I experienced. There is no bad seat anywhere, acoustically (tried 3 different locations). However, it doesn’t count, as it isn’t a concert hall. :-)
(in case you wonder, MET is a cut or two below Vienna State Opera in terms of clarity / reverb / balance)
I happened to attend Univ. of Michigan and got into numerous great concerts at the Hill Auditorium (The UMS concerts). Outstanding acoustics in most seats. Best time of my life, as the ticket prices were dirt cheap for top tier concerts by Horowitz, Bernstein, Berliners, Wieners, et al.
NJPAC is pathetic. Period. I don’t understand what’s the big deal about that hall. I avoid that hall by all means.
Musikverein’s Golden Hall has that pure magical sound --- but you better sit at the right place. Tried 6 different locations (didn’t try the organ side seats). Avoid the side seats on upper tier by all means. If Simon’s Berliner sounded "distant" in Musikverein ... you know you’re at the wrong location. The downside: No A/C. Avoid the afternoon concerts in May or June - it’s baking in there.
And because of that, I respect Boston’s Symphony Hall the greatest, as it is a tiny bit superior to Musikverein in sound. Was a student in Boston and attended many concerts there. There is no bad seat that I could found there. Wouldn’t hurt to hear Berliner and Boston Symphony playing there too.
As much as some people beating the drums, SF’s Davies Hall isn’t that special (live MTS Mahler did not sound like what you’d hear on the award winning SACDs). It is a good hall, just not at the same level as others. Came to that conclusion after hearing both SFO and Berlin Phil there.
Nor the Disney Hall in LA (very nice place for mingling, however). LA Phil isn’t known for their strings - that weakness is amplified by the hall.
Toronto’s Roy Thomson is very respectable too. I recall hearing 4 very different orchestras there: Munich Phil, Philadelphia, Concertgebouw, plus the resident Toronto Symphony. Great sound in most locations (solo never sound "weak", like at some "dead" spots in Kimmel Center, for example).
Chicago’s Symphony Hall is very good too. Unfortunately, Chicago Symphony Orchestra still sounds fairly aggressive to my taste.
Wish I could go to Concertgebouw, Berlin’s Philharmonie and Smetana Hall someday....
P.S. As an audience, you could tell how good a concert hall is by paying attention on how well the musicians could hear each other. Avery Fisher, for example, it is beyond obvious that they cannot hear each other well from time to time.
P.S. It is a curse, but good medicine, to attend live concerts all over the places. Bad: I would never be happy with my audio setup. Good: I would never over-invest into my audio setup.
P.S. There is no concert hall in Asia that is as impressive as some of the better ones I mentioned. Seriously, none. Not even the famous Suntory Hall in Tokyo.
But that’s just me. :-)
My wife and I have enjoyed what classical music buffs think are the three best:
Musikverein in Vienna
The Concertgebow in Amsterdam
Symphony Hall in Boston
We have also loved concerts at our formerly local:
The Music Center at Strathmore (in "North Bethesda", otherwise known as "Rockville, MD").
Other than Musikverein, Concertgebouw and Boston Symphony Hall my vote goes to Wigmore Hall and the Tabernacle
+1 for Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. You can literally drop a pin on stage and hear it in the second balcony. I saw Igor Stravinsky conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra there as well as about 20 other Philadelphia Orchestra/Ormandy concerts, Cleveland Symphony/Szell, Berlin/Karajan , Sutherland, Rudolf Serkin and countless others.
I saw concerts at Hill Auditorium ranging from Watts/Ozawa/NY Phil to Andre Segovia to The Byrds and Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen, as well as chamber groups and countless others. I wish I had been able to take in more concerts while I was there.
I agree that Avery Fisher is a disaster. Perhaps not up their with the very best, but there are good seats to be had at Carnegie Hall.
In Philadelphia - The Academy of Music. In Colorado - Red Rocks Amphitheater
Wow, lots of former Wolverines on this thread.
Another +1 for Hill Auditorium from me.
The Hollywood Sportatorium in the early seventies. Middle of the swamp. No air conditioning and no seats...it was great!
The Wigmore Hall in London is a superbly intimate space for piano recitals , quartet recitals and song recitals. I have been to it many times and seen many famous pianists there. They're lunchtime recitals are very famous and only an hour long so you never get bored. All in all a wonderful place.
+1 for Symphony Hall in Boston. A benchmark of acoustics.
Other favorites are Smetana Hall at the Obecní dům in Prague: delicate, open sound. Teatro Massimo in Palermo: precise, weighty, immediate. Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy NY: perhaps the best rendering of a piano quintet I've ever heard.
Most fun while watching an opera: Teatro Regio in Parma. A critical audience to be sure.
The original Hancher in Iowa City was quite good until a flood ended it's life. The new one is good, but I do not have enough experience yet to compare them. Being a Jazz fan, most of the live performances I have seen were in commercial places...like bars, Sweet Basil's, The Blue Note and others.
I have seen several "outdoor" events and find it is all over the place sound wise.....
palasr--I agree with you on watching an opera in Italy. I went to a performance by a touring troupe in Todi, and it was almost like being at a baseball game here in the US.
Another vote for Hill Auditorium. Have attended many concerts there including several folk festivals classical and pop/rock/blues performances always with above average hall acoustics. The standout concert was The Berlin Philharmonic with Claudio Abbado conducting his farewell tour 2001. I believe they only performed in 5 cities NY/Chicago/SF and DC? The performance was stunning with razor sharp precision and dynamics, I'm sure the acoustics of Hill Auditorium accentuated the great Berlin Philharmonic!
Vienna - schmienna!!
Everyone knows that only New York has the best of the best of the BEST of everything, 24/7. Obviously, you are a hateful, privileged, misogynist.
I bet you eat meat and don't even drive an electric car.
+1 for The Concertgebow in Amsterdam.
The Winnipeg Centennial Concert Hall (Winnipeg, MB Canada) competes with it. The acoustics are incredible. There is not a bad seat anywhere. I had the fortunate experience of playing on its stage when I was (much) younger. It took little effort for me to peel the paint off the back wall.
The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston, ON Canada. It’s a bit disorienting when you walk in - your ears automatically feel blocked. It has been acoustically treated so there is very little bounce off the side walls which messes with your kinaesthetic awareness. But the sound from the performers is exquisite!