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Subject: "Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Bruce Madmin

22-11-01, 09:39 PM (GMT)
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"Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
 
   LAST EDITED ON 22-11-01 AT 09:41 PM (GMT)


It was a first visit to the Manchester Opera House for me on Tuesday. It turns out to be a fine Victorian pile with a nice original interior. It looks pleasantly faded around the edges, is comfortable and I'll cheerfully return again. The place was packed to capacity too - rare for a triple bill but Manchester turned out not just to see a good company but to see a good company dance a local boy's steps. Christopher Hampson, who has been writing for us for four years now, had the premiere of his new piece "Double Concerto" and I had the pleasure of doing choreographer's mMm duties again... well and choreographers' sister as well actually. Ensconced between them I contemplated what might happen if I actually didn't like the new piece. We were in the grand circle and its a fair drop.

But the evening opened with Balanchine's Apollo. I love the concentrated power in this early work (from 1928) and the focus of just having four dancers on stage. The Stravinsky score is more inviting and less brittle than many of the later pieces as well. It's a serious, monumental work and Dmitri Gruzdyev was a suitably strong Apollo. Returned from injury, Gruzdyev looked as if he had 'rested' too long and was hungry for action. For an opening night it was well rehearsed and they sailed through much of the partnering complexity. Joanna Maley has started to register and I thought she captured Terpsichore (muse of dance) and the American look well. Apollo was the turning point for Balanchine so what of the Hampson?

Well I'd actually seen Double Concerto in the studio and did the programme notes so I knew I was actually onto a winner. But of course it's not until it goes on stage, with set and costume that you really see something in its full light. And it is a corker.

Double Concerto lasts all of 22 minutes but feels like 17, such is the reckless and dizzy pace of it. Theres no fat on it - incredibly rare - and you do want more and longer. It starts with frantic effervescence - tutu's just erupt at high speed onto the stage. In the blur you first start to notice the costumes in opalescent white, for the leads, and black, for the corps. Modern, pert, but classical like the choreography - Garry Harris has done a grand job (incidentally he is now AD in New Zealand and we have an interview coming up).

There are slower sections (well we all need a chance to breathe at times) and a pas de deux in the middle of course. Daria Klimentova and company new boy Jan-Erik Wikstrom (ex Royal Swedish Ballet) seem to have the technical stuff all sorted and complement each other well. But it's the numbers involved and the way the corps are moved and patterned that mark Double Concerto out as particularly impressive. The Poulenc score is built on all manner of quotes and influences from Stravinsky to Broadway and Hampson quotes freely, for a bar or two at most, from many 19th century ballets too. This is classical ballet with zip and panache. It's not old and its not fuddy-duddy.

The audience loved it and there was prolonged and healthy applause. A proud mum beamed and a sister whooped, whistled and stomped.

The evening ended with Who Cares? - Balanchine meets Broadway - to Gershwin songs. The company must have pondered for a moment or two about putting it on given that the backcloth is a view of slightly drunken New York skyscrapers complete with fireworks going off at the end. It's a fine go-home piece but I find it a bit too long these days. No reflection on Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur who led the piece. Tom looked very laddish and cheeky, particularly for the curtain calls - not the impeccable Prince we normally see! Monica Perego also looked good - her spirit and sense of fun go well in this. And I noticed Joanna Maley again - I hope she gets some more and bigger things. Ditto Hampson. Double Concerto and Esquisses, the piece he did for ENB School this summer, show more than ever what he is capable of as he moves up another gear. So what next and big? - we'll know soon enough I'm sure.

the Hampson diaries
Notes on Double Concerto from the November magazine


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester Richard J 23-11-01 1
     RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester Bruce Madmin 23-11-01 2
         RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester marie 06-12-01 10
         RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester marie 06-12-01 11
     RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester margaret lumley 24-11-01 4
     RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester alison 29-11-01 5
  RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester Margaret Lumley 24-11-01 3
     RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester Richard J 29-11-01 6
         RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester Kevin Ng 30-11-01 7
             RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester alison 30-11-01 8
                 RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester Richard J 02-12-01 9

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Richard J

23-11-01, 07:32 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #0
 
   Thanks for these notes - I guess you might have seen the rave review in the Guardian (Thurs). It all helps to sell the show at future venues. I'm taking a schools party of 65 staff and students to Bristol Hippodrome next Wed. (and a few staff who can't make the Wed. perf. are going on Tues.), - just two days after a school concert - so a dedicated week of culture is in store! Naturally they are pleased to hear all this excited advance publicity.


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Bruce Madmin

23-11-01, 10:28 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #1
 
   >Thanks for these notes - I
>guess you might have seen
>the rave review in the
>Guardian (Thurs)

the Telegraph and Times seemed to have a pretty good time as well. Afer Bristol next week there are some dates in the Coliseum run after Christmas (and when I hope London readers will flock to see it)


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marie

06-12-01, 08:43 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #2
 
   i went to see the matinee of the triple bill in bristol,it was truly beautiful.i've been a ballet fan for a while but only recently started on the internet...
i thought apollo was the best piece and particularly liked alexis oliviera and cindy jourdain,their pas de deux was just stunning!
does anyone know anything about those two?
anyway,the rest of the bill was really worth watching too and
i think enb is looking great! xxxxxxxxxxx


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marie

06-12-01, 08:47 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #2
 
   i went to see the matinee of the triple bill in bristol,it was truly beautiful.i've been a ballet fan for a while but only recently started on the internet...
i thought apollo was the best piece and particularly liked alexis oliviera and cindy jourdain,their pas de deux was just stunning!
does anyone know anything about those two?
anyway,the rest of the bill was really worth watching too and
i think enb is looking great! xxxxxxxxxxx


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margaret lumley

24-11-01, 09:31 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #1
 
   >I went to see the schools matinee - and ballet kept the under 11's quieter than the teachers. Those who had never seen it before just gasped - it was lovely to be there.

They will love Hampson's piece

Enjoy
>



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alison

29-11-01, 05:42 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #1
 
   Darn, where were you? I'd have come and said hello, although I imagine you had your hands full . I really enjoyed the new Hampson, I have to say, and am looking forward to seeing it again at the Coliseum. There's so much happening in it that you need to see it a few times just to take it all in.

BTW, if anyone's planning to go to see Romeo & Juliet in the spring it's already booking up very quickly, and, given that it's in Holy Week, there are a reduced number of performances, so I wouldn't hang around for casting info!


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Margaret Lumley

24-11-01, 09:27 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #0
 
   Like many of the ENB regulars I had wondered whether Christopher Hampson had retired too young from ballet in his mid twenties- when he had so many performing years left in him. Did the career change gamble pay off- well the 1900 who provided the deafening applause after seeing the premier of his first big ballet, ‘Double Concerto’ certainly thought so.

Your senses simply can’t register all this delirious and beautifully frantic movement

Double Concerto is set to a Poulenc concerto for 2 pianos and orchestra, the constant variation in rhythms and themes provides the opportunity for 37 dancers to really let rip and show what can be done with the classical vocabulary. The sheer high energy of the constant outburst of dancers in irredescent tu-tus from the wings makes you wake up and take notice.But even then your senses simply can’t register all this delirious and beautifully frantic movement.Mercifully the frenetic activity is punctuated by the most tranquil and almost still sections..

‘Daria Klimentova was exquisite and Vladislav Bubnov was a pleasure to watch

The exquisite Daria Klimentova resplendent in white tu-tu simply sparkled in choreography that fitted her like a glove. She has the most superb line in arabesque and flashed like quicksilver in her manege. Her partner was the very accomplished Jan Eric Wikstrom, a worthy new addition to the company very much in the danseur noble, Tom Edur mould. However it was Vladislav Bubnov in the matinee who really impressed with his elegance. He was certainly not outclassed by the 2 soloists (the seriously talented Cameron McMillan and Jesus Pastor) in the flashy diagonals and provided a demonstration of the sheer joy of dancing at its best.His pas de deux with an unusually tense Monica Perego had a dream like quality. An absolute pleasure to watch.

‘You will want to see it again and again…its like Etudes with attitude.

Double Concerto is like ‘‘Etudes’ with attitude’. The same monotone pallet of white to black is used for the costumes but the tu-tus are now a high tec tabletop shape and the colour comes from the lighting. It is packed with quality and you want to see it again and again just to see what you missed.

Balanchine went down well with the children

Double Concerto was sandwiched between Balanchine’s Apollo and ‘Who Cares’. Apollo surprisingly was better received by the matinee school children who gasped at the 6 o’clock arabesques and remained saucer eyed throughout - than the adults in the evening who were shuffling in their seats. Alexis Oliveira was a convincing young God who has grown into the role.

‘Who Cares’ provided the novel experience of seeing Tom Edur as a womanising gigolo and not a Prince .He is a natural showman who captured the american glitz and did his usual fluent pas de deux with Agnes Oaks.

Triple bills tend not to ignite the public interest but they are a wonderful introduction to ballet for children. I could not help but notice boys copying the Oliveira’s god like poses and some little princesses grand jete-ing down the aisles in the interval.Hopefully ballet will become ‘Cool’ and audiences will be grown for the future.


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Richard J

29-11-01, 08:40 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #3
 
   Well, ENB Triple Bills have come a long way since the latter days of LFB, when things had got rather grim. I saw their present triple on Tues and Wed evenings this week at Bristol Hippodrome (they have now started the short run of Cinderella, which lasts till Sat). Comparing notes with a friend who has, like me, seen the company rise from the distant days of the ashes of LFB, we were so pleased to agree on the gathering technical strength of the company, and the fact that we could see something new.

Thanks for the preview of “Double Concerto” Bruce, and the rest of the review; helpful for preparing the school party for Wed. evening. I teach in a school for boys (11-18); together with our sister school we took 65 students and staff to the performance, and a great success it was with them. Apparently we would have had even more, but some of the staff from our sister school were off to watch the rugby (Barbarians v Australians) – now you know what staff at a girls’ school do on a ladies night out! If only they had known in advance of Tom Edur appearing as Apollo…….

Meanwhile, back to the ballet. Since I organised such a large party I was invited to a reception with ENB and British Airways Travel Shops (who sponsor the senior soloists); a good opportunity to say “Good on yer, ENB, for brushing up your programmes: keep the triples flowing – and new work”. Apparently ENB seem to be aware that BRB had begun to build an audience for new and less familiar work before they had to drop Bristol from their touring route (sad story, that), so at least we are getting something different. The programme contained some heartening news; the new AD wants to expand the ENB rep. So we’ll hold him to that!

I won’t add a lot to the reviews already posted, except to say that on Wed. we had Agnes Oaks as Terpsichore, so the Apollo/Terpsichore pdd was something special; the moment when she has her swimming lesson, perched perilously on the back of Apollo’s neck, was especially beautiful. On Tues, the pairing there was Joanna Maley with Gruzdyev; good news, as reported by Bruce from Manchester.

“Double Concerto” will obviously stay with us – and it will pull in the crowds. Also, it was good to see "Who Cares” on the big stage; ENB has used it for ‘Tour de Force’ mid-scale tours, but you need the full orchestra for the big Broadway style. And Tom E. in “Who Cares” – magic! However, I wonder if anyone else feels that “Who Cares” is due for a new backdrop? As Donald Hutera wrote in the Times, slanting skyscrapers make you feel a bit uncomfortable; but, in any case, I find this backdrop a bit too dominant. On Wed. I watched from the upper circle (Tues I was in the stalls) so I couldn’t see so much of it – and preferred it that way.

If anyone else has a music student going to see this programme, it’s worth mentioning that ENB does the version of Apollo that Balanchine produced in 1978/9. The birth of Apollo is cut, so unfortunately you lose the first 3 ¾ minutes of the music; it’s a pity as it does upset the musical balance of the opening section – and the violin solo feels to be a bit premature – but perhaps that’s because I’m so used to the complete score. However, it’s still a perfect match of music and choreography.

All in all, it was gratifying to see a good house and enthusiastic reception for this programme when touring ballet companies are worried about the response to triple bills and the need to put bums on seats. If it's any encouragement to ENB, I can well remember BRB triples at Bristol when the upper circle was closed because of the size of the audience, and all who had bought upper circle tickets were re-seated in plusher areas of the theatre. That didn't happen this week.

PS Alison, R&J is in Bristol during Holy Week; were you at the Bristol Hippo?


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Kevin Ng

30-11-01, 01:36 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #6
 
   > If only
>they had known in advance
>of Tom Edur appearing as
>Apollo……

I am glad to hear that Tom Edur also danced Apollo, besides Dmitri Gruzdyev. I hope that Tom will be cast again in the London Coliseum season.


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alison

30-11-01, 01:02 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #7
 
   So do I! That must be about the 4th time I've seen Alexis Oliveira in the role .


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Richard J

02-12-01, 02:46 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Review: ENB Double Concerto bill, Manchester"
In response to message #8
 
   It’s been a busy week, so I didn’t immediately have time to give more detailed impressions of ENB’s triple bill when I saw the company at the Bristol Hippodrome. It was good to see that critics from the national press ventured to Manchester in order to report on the first night of this new programme. A notable exception seems to have been The Financial Times…………


Notwithstanding the ghastliness of Britain’s road and rail network, a recent excursion in the wake of English National Ballet has proved to be exceptionally rewarding. Ballet audiences in the capital will have to wait till the company installs itself at the Coliseum in order to see the enterprising triple bill currently being presented by Matz Skoog’s troupe.

The programme opens with the sublime Apollo, presented in the version adopted by Balanchine in the late 1970’s which omits the scene depicting the birth of Apollo. Here is an ideal ballet for a company touring on a shoestring; a seminal work that requires just four dancers, no scenery, minimal costumes, and only a string orchestra to boot. Little wonder that ENB has made good use of this gem in its mid-scale Tour-de-force programmes. But Apollo deserves a big stage, and Stravinsky himself suggested an orchestra of thirty-four to do justice to the varied sonorities of his score.

The cast on the opening night included Dmitri Gruzdyev as Apollo, happily back from injury, and portraying the title role with godlike grace. Meanwhile, Joanna Maley as Terpsichore showed how well she is discovering the essence of the Muse who pleases Apollo. Erina Takahashi and Caroline Duprot were Polyhymnia and Calliope respectively. There are moments in present-day productions of the 19th century classics when one suddenly observes a foot whizzing past an ear; on such occasions, one is tempted to ask “Why?” In the Balanchine canon, however, such flexibility is de rigeur; the final tableau depicting the rays of the sun requires the kind of stillness provided with youthful insouciance by these two young Muses.

The second offering in this triple bill gives one of our younger choreographers the chance to put the company through its paces. Poulenc’s concerto for two pianos, composed in 1932, is full of energy and opportunities to play “spot the composer”. Christopher Hampson’s vivid response begins with a lone dancer awaiting his partner. Daria Klimentova duly appears, leaps into the arms of the awaiting Jan-Eric Wikstrom (a fine addition to ENB’s forces), and the rollercoaster is on its way. Whether fizzing with excitement or reflecting the dreamlike section of the score that was said to have been inspired by the visit of a Balinese gamelan orchestra to a French Colonial Exhibition in Paris, Hampson’s sensitivity to the music is clear. Designs (by Gary Harris) which involve interlacing chrome poles at a variety of angles, and lighting (by Mark Cooper) that pulls out all the stops (including a touch of ultra-violet) place this production firmly in the 21st century. Londoners who dread the emptiness of mid-January will find here an excellent New Year treat, not only as a tonic for themselves but also as a production that should captivate their offspring with the immediacy of its visual impact.

And so to Gershwin. Balanchine’s felicitous interpretation of the set of Gershwin songs that were orchestrated for Who Cares? provides an opportunity for fourteen of the company’s dancers to indulge in Broadway pzazz. Familiar faces such as Monica Perego, Thomas Edur and Agnes Oaks communicate the sheer joy of their art. Naturally, the rotation of casting requires that these three take their places in the other ballets along with their colleagues in what appears these days to be a more stable company; comparison of interpretations will be an interesting exercise at the Coliseum. Honour to ENB, prepared to risk something fresh north (and west) of Watford, though it must be added that the citizens of Oxford, Southampton, and Liverpool have not been given the opportunity of seeing this programme during ENB’s visits to their own theatres.


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