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Subject: "NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31" Archived thread - Read only
 
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eugene merrett

04-06-99, 05:35 PM (GMT)
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"NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31"
 
   The overly ambitious 100 work season is now beginning to take its toll amongst the dancers. Some of the works looked if they were in need of further rehearsals. It is not just the large number of works that is causing problems but the type of ballets they are doing. The Goldberg Variations needed 32 separate dance numbers and their Swan Lake was the most dance focused classical ballet I have seen. The New York City Ballet do themselves no favours!

It is inevitable that some works were beginning to look rather ragged. In particular “Theme and Variations” and “Ballet Imperial" did not look very good. But the genius of Balanchine’s choreography did come through and so I look forward to seeing “Theme and Variation” again when the San Francisco Ballet come over in October.

The highlight of the weekend trio of ballets I saw was Serenade. I really liked it when I saw it in Bristol two years ago. But on the large New York State Theatre Stage it looked wonderful. It has all the best aspect of Balanchine – energy, excitement but it also had warmth and feeling. It was a perfect marriage of music, choreography and costumes (the long airy skirts moving in a wave like motion as the dancers jumped was incredibly beautiful). I simply cannot wait to see it again in July.

Diamonds is the third act of Jewels – the first three act plotless ballet. It is quite a low key work – totally different from Theme and Variations. And that is where the problem lies – the glittering costumes do not reconcile with the sombre music and relaxed choreography. In particular the music (Tchaikovsky 3rd Symphony – his best in my view) is a brooding work far removed from the Sleeping Beauty glitz which Diamonds seems to be all about. It is like having La Fille Mal Gardee set to Tchaikovsky Pathetique Symphony. But it is still a work of great beauty. I particularly Wendy Whelan, a big powerful dancer who moved with great authority and presence.

Allegro Brillante and Tchaikovsky pas de deux was highlighted by the spectacular performance of Alexandra Ansanelli. In Allegro brillante (set to the first movement of Tchaikovsky 3rd Symphony) she stunned the normally reserved and tough City Ballet audiences with her power. She received 4 curtain calls. I have never seen this before at the New York City Ballet. In the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux she was even more stunning. I am afraid to say that she completely outclasses Darcey Bussell (I have seen her live twice and have two videos of her in it). Ansanelli has all the power and extension of Bussell but with a far greater turn of speed. Bussell looks very heavy compared to Ansanelli. Ansanelli is only a soloist so she is a dancer who is going places.

Aurora’s wedding is the third act of Sleeping Beauty. Rather surprisingly Peter Martins uses the English version of the pas de deux. The British version is harder then Russian version as it has is the two double pirouettes into the Fish dive and the fiendishly difficult rise on bended knee by the Princess. The Russian version replaces the fish dives with supported attitudes and the princess rises straight up Of course Margaret Tracey, one the finest technical dancers around , makes absolute mincemeat out of these difficult movements. I also thought that Benjamin Millipeid and Jeannie Somogyi were the best Blue bird Pas de deux I have seen. Somogyi is another dancer going places. Peter Martins has added two more numbers to the third act from the original score. One of them a minuet before the grand pas de deux was very effective because it gives the Lilac Fairy a role in Act 3. But overall the production was not quite as successful as I had hoped it to be. I think it was because there was a lack of regal splendour. The fast tempos, the relatively bare sets and the comparatively small number of dancers on the stage conspired to make it a look like a wedding of a minor Royal!

But overall this was a most successful weekend of ballet for the New York City Ballet. The company is in very good shape technically. What it needs is more consistent new choreography. I hope it does not come a museum like the Kirov has become (their own description).

One of the things I admire about the New York City Ballet is the importance they place on the music. They have what must be the best ballet-only orchestra in the world (The Kirov and ROH orchestra are primarily opera orchestras). I note that the concert master is Guillermo Figueroa. He is also the concert master of the world famous conductor less Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The playing in the Diamonds was outstanding. But it is not just the fine orchestra that sets the NYCB apart but also their insistence on using the complete score of Swan Lake, Goldberg Variations, Sleeping Beauty (more or less) etc. I think too many ballet companies consider music as an afterthought. It also infuriates me that the Anthony Dowell mutilates the scores of these great classics in the name of dramatic expedience or authenticity.

Of interest to us is that Andrea Quinn made a guest appearance conducting Serenade. That raised a few eyebrows amoung the politically correct New York audience! The other works were conducted from the steady hand of Hugo Fiorato.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31 Kate Robinson 09-06-99 2
     RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31 Eugene Merrett 09-06-99 3
         RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31 Kate Robinson 10-06-99 6
         RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31 Bruce Madmin 09-06-99 4
             RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31 Eugene Merrett 09-06-99 5
  RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31 Francis Timlin 04-06-99 1

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Kate Robinson

09-06-99, 10:31 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31"
In response to message #0
 
   Eugene - are you tone deaf? To call the orchestra the best ballet orchestra in the world is bordering on misrepresention. What they did to Stravinsky earlier in the week, and for that matter Tschaikovsky, was criminally culpable.


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Eugene Merrett

09-06-99, 03:08 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31"
In response to message #2
 
   I see dozens of concerts every year. I am going to the Barbican Centre this week. The NYCB is not as good as Kirov or ROH Orchestra (except in Swan Lake) but it is superior to the ABT or the ENO Orchestra.

I think that the brass section needs to be augmented. However the rich sound of the string section in the Tchaik 3rd symphony was very impressive.

It should also be said that American orchestra do not have the same amount of rehearsal time as their British counterparts. Particulary NYCB orchestra which has to perform so many different works in such a short period. I do not think any other orchestra in the world has to do more music in such a short time as this orcherstra. It is reasonable to expect few fluffed notes. I am never too badly affected by this

It is also important sit in the right place for optimum accoustics. Sound can very enormously. From my experience the optimum sound at Covent Garden is rear stalls but forward of the dress circle overhang.


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Kate Robinson

10-06-99, 10:28 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31"
In response to message #3
 
   You did not answer the question, Eugene. Going to a concert every night does not mean that you are not tone deaf.

You mentioned that the brass section of the NYCB orchestra needed augmenting. I would have found euthanasia a more appropriate solution.


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Bruce Madmin

09-06-99, 03:49 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31"
In response to message #3
 
   >It should also be said that American
>orchestra do not have the same
>amount of rehearsal time as their
>British counterparts.

You mean they just have the hour, as opposed to the 75 minutes that the ROH orchestra appears to devote to its ballet reheasals.

I still think it rather shocking that they (ROH orchestra) have won prizes on the opera side when they do such a poor job for ballet (who presemably pick up half the costs).


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Eugene Merrett

09-06-99, 04:35 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31"
In response to message #4
 
   It is even worse then that - according to one musician I spoke to they do not even rehearse Swan Lake at all and they will do one playthrough for Giselle!


But sometimes they play very well - Prince and the Pagodas is a good example. I would not wish to hear that score by anything but the best!

British orchestras are famous for their sight reading (often considered the best in the world!) This is why they do so many soundtracks for Hollywood films - you just give 'em the score and they play!!


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Francis Timlin

04-06-99, 08:15 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: NY City Ballet - Tchaikovsky Festival May 29-31"
In response to message #0
 
   Your perspective on the orchestra is refreshing. I am far more accustomed to hearing incessant carping about the quality of the playing, the conducting, etc., from those privileged by their geographic location to hear the NYCB orchestra on a regular basis. I am curious about your reference to Andrea Quinn, particularly since I recall reading an uncomplimentary post from someone who had seen RB in Japan. Is there some inside scoop here? It is gratifying that you enjoy Serenade. I find it a deeply moving experience every time I see/hear it -- and have felt this way for over 30 years.


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