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Shostakovich Trilogy by Alexei Ratmansky


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#16 Ilya

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 06:22 AM

[size=4][font=Helvetica]Dear rg, thank you very much for the explanations about the photo and the costumes. Regarding the set for Symphony #9 on Friday, I had the same reaction at first---"what set?"---until the backdrop appeared before the third movement.[/font]

[font=Helvetica]Speaking of changes---Friday night Osipova and Vasiliev kissed during Piano Concerto #1. Saturday night they didn't (or did I miss it?)[/font]

[font=Helvetica]After the second viewing on Saturday night (with the same cast as Friday night), both Symphony #9 and Chamber Symphony are now my favorites. Chamber Symphony is full of interesting detail. Looking closely at the pas de deux between the main protagonist and each ballerina, one notices that the three relationships are quite different, and that the three ballerina characters are quite different as well. The interactions with the corps de ballet are equally fascinating. Sometimes the corps gives the main protagonist looks of bewilderment, sometimes they are menacing. Towards the end it looks like he directs their movement---are they now the characters from his works? are they his reminiscences from years past?[/font]

[font=Helvetica]I am starting to appreciate the Piano Concerto as well, although it is still full of riddles for me.[/font]

[font=Helvetica]The performance on Saturday was as spectacular as the first performance, if not more. Cornejo's turns at the conclusion of the Ninth Symphony were even more breathtaking than on Friday. Concerto #1 looked a bit sharper.[/font][/size]

#17 nysusan

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 07:16 AM

I saw the 1st cast on Friday night and the 2nd cast at the Saturday matinee. I found the works fascinating at both performances (and am bummed that I won't be able to see them again this season).

The Semionova/Gomes and Part/Bolle casts gave Symphony #9 very different flavors, but I enjoyed them both equally. LOVED Salstein in the first cast. He is a very talented dancer but ABT usually uses him in character roles or "hammy" roles - Ratmansky really showed his pure dance abilities to great advantage.

I felt that the 2nd casts in Chamber Sym and Piano Concerto didn't work quite as well as the 1st casts.

Chamber Sym is a mysterious, dramatic work with sinister overtones and while it held up with both casts I found it much more compelling with Hallberg in the leading role. In the first cast Boylston, Herrera & Kent were distinctly different and seemed to represent actual women in the protagonist's life. I loved Herrera, she had a very lush presence. But in the second cast Lane, Seo and Kajiya were so well matched in terms of height and style (not that they are all the same height, but their heights & styles harmonized) that they could have represented a trio of muses or the protagonist's dreams as well as individual women. I wish I could have seen Hallberg with the 2nd cast women.

Piano Concerto was my favorite, while there were still hints of fear & anxiety it was mostly uptempo and reminded me of Concerto Dsh. The 2nd cast was good, esp Simkin who looked very classical and elegant in the Vasiliev role. While still enjoyable it did seem much less explosive than it had been with the 1st cast. Christine Shevchenko acquitted herself well subbing for Murphy on Sat afternoon. During the bows the whole cast applauded her, which I thought was very sweet. Calvin Royal was also fine but he and Shevchenko were not not terribly distinctive - not surprising for young dancers in their first featured roles. The 1st cast was great across the board. I was stunned at how wonderful Stearns looked. I'd been skeptical of his ability to partner Vishneva but I saw no issues there. He also had great presence, beautiful line and tossed off all the technical challenges with ease. There was one point when he followed Vasiliev in the exact same tour combination and he in no way looked inferior. Different, but equally impressive. I have not been a fan of his in the past so I was pleasantly surprised at how well he fit in with the rest of the high powered cast.

#18 rg

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 08:47 AM

re: the kiss between Osipova and Vasiliev, i didn't see it repeated on Sat. eve. either.

#19 nysusan

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 09:18 AM

Simkin & Reyes did the kiss on Sat afternoon - it was just a quick peck & could easily have been missed

#20 sandik

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 11:21 AM

to the best of my recall, the drop for SYM # 9 was lowered on Fri. at the same point it did so on Sat.
...
since however these various pieces are hung from wires that can be moved maybe their arrangements and rearrangements are variable and not specifically set from perf. to perf.


Several years ago I saw a work by James Kudelka that had a set of figures (resembling angels, if I remember correctly) on wires at the back of the stage. The figures rose and fell during the work, and several of us speculated that they were part of a rating system ("the second movement got 3.5 angels out of 5, but the fourth movement only got 2") We'd been talking about "artistic" scores in Olympics events, and the conversation bled over.

#21 OneSwan

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 02:52 PM

Attended yesterday's matinee performance. I echo the other posters who felt there was a significant amount of symbolism drawn from Russian history and culture which, alas, my American mind wasn't able to fathom. Still, I very much enjoyed all three pieces in the trio. I was least engaged by Piano Concerto #1, but I think that may have had a lot to do with the cast. All three parts have lots of interesting layers and would definitely be worth repeated viewings. There are playful moments, and purely beautiful moments, and heart-wrenching ones; it's quite a sweeping work. It felt like a ballet for the whole company, which was nice: lots of interesting choreography for the corps.

Some notes on the performances:
Veronika Part's performance was the highlight of "Symphony #9" for me: really richly detailed and nuanced. I was impressed by James Whiteside in "Chamber Symphony"; what a gift that role is to the men who are cast in it! Lots of opportunities to really shine, and I thought James did. Sarah, Yuriko, and Hee were polished and lovely, but didn't bring much individual presence to their roles. Gillian was injured and Christine Shevchenko subbed in for her in "Piano Concerto #1". She carried off the last minute performance capably, but ultimately fell rather flat for me. I hope to see more of her partner, Calvin Royal III, though. Of course he was outshone technically by Simkin, but his partnering abilities impressed me and he had this evident joy in dancing at certain moments that I found engaging. He's got some presence...would be glad to see ABT give him more chances to develop like they did with this role.

#22 Alexandra

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 06:26 AM

Thanks for everyone who wrote about this. I couldn't get up to New York to see it, and I'd hoped to read more!! The photos I've seen are absolutely stunning. More, please!

#23 sandik

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 07:47 AM

Echoing Alexandra's thanks -- it will be quite a while before I get to see this work, but I'm so glad to have all these other views.

#24 mimsyb

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 08:36 AM

This is truly a masterwork, rarely seen. I won't comment on the dancers, as I thought each cast had something important to offer the work. Everyone stood out, each for something unique. Ratmansky has a way with dancers, for sure. I hope this Trilogy is shown again, and soon. (perhaps in the Fall Season). And I hope it won't be split up. Each ballet offers something of a very special nature. Layer upon layer. Impossible to digest with one viewing. I saw three performances (and both casts). But as a Trilogy it stands as one of the finest dance works in recent memory. Thanks to ABT!

#25 California

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 09:39 AM

I had understood that this was a co-production with San Francisco Ballet, but if you look at their 2014 schedule, it's not listed. They do list a different "world premiere" by Ratmansky March 1-9, 2014, "From foreign lands." But that's one of three ballets on that program, so clearly it's something different. Any word on when SFB will show the Trilogy?

http://www.sfballet.org/

#26 mussel

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 09:51 AM

I agree with everyone about the trilogy and it is an instant masterpiece, I hope they'll bring them as a whole during the fall State Theater season.

Cali, the SFB will perform the trilogy between 4/2-13, 2014 as program 5: http://www.sfballet....sonOverview.pdf

#27 California

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 09:56 AM

. . . the SFB will perform the trilogy between 4/2-13, 2014 as program 5: http://www.sfballet....sonOverview.pdf


Thanks - I was looking in the wrong place. BTW -- if you look at that pdf flyer, there's a picture of the previous Symphony #9 costumes with the cream-colored splotches.

#28 abatt

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 11:05 AM

I think the trilogy is too vast an undertaking for the State Theater season. These ballets require the full strength of the ABT principal ranks. At the fall engagement I anticipate that they will be operating with a skeletal crew of principals, as in the past during their recent City Center engagements. I hope the trilogy returns to the Met in Spring 2014.

One of the critiques I have heard from several people is that the second cast was not quite as compelling as the first, and that the seond ballet (Chamber) is the most vulnerable to depletion by a less-than-stellar cast because it requires nuanced acting skills. I saw the first cast twice, and opted to skip the second cast.

#29 Ilya

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 03:44 AM

[size=4][font=Helvetica]Third and last (for now) viewing Monday night, with the second cast. [/font]

[font=Helvetica]The kiss seems to be gone from the choreography---Reyes and Simkin did not do it.[/font]

[font=Helvetica]It was interesting to trace certain motifs---steps, poses, formations---through all three pieces. As I was sitting farther away this time, I was able to better appreciate how ingeniously the space is used in all three parts. In addition, it seems I missed some obvious and important details during the first two viewings---e.g., how the four menacing male corps figures sometimes raise the main protagonist up high, and sometimes push him down to the ground in the Chamber Symphony. They sometimes take the ballerina away from him (Yuriko Kajiya on Monday, Paloma Herrera in the first cast), and sometimes let them reunite. This episode is then echoed in the Piano Concerto #1.[/font]

[font=Helvetica]The second cast for Chamber Symphony was fantastic, especially James Whiteside. Hallberg's restraint renders more depth to this work; however, I liked Whiteside more vivid interpretation as well---his character is more down-to-earth and at times more child-like, especially in his first encounter with the first ballerina (Sarah Lane).[/font]

[font=Helvetica]Gillian Murphy was still injured and again substituted in Piano Concerto #1 by Christine Shevchenko who acquitted herself very well.[/font]

[font=Helvetica]Peter Martins and Christopher Wheeldon were in the audience. So was Alastair Macaulay---it seems to have been a third viewing for him as well. Interestingly, the chief music critic of the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, attended the Saturday evening performance. Perhaps the New York Times is planning more coverage? Quite strangely, Vladimir Shklyarov was also in the audience on Monday---isn't the Mariinsky season still in full swing?[/font][/size]

#30 California

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 04:20 AM

Gillian was injured and Christine Shevchenko subbed in for her in "Piano Concerto #1". She carried off the last minute performance capably, but ultimately fell rather flat for me. I hope to see more of her partner, Calvin Royal III, though. Of course he was outshone technically by Simkin, but his partnering abilities impressed me and he had this evident joy in dancing at certain moments that I found engaging. He's got some presence...would be glad to see ABT give him more chances to develop like they did with this role.

I saw the Monday night performances. Shevchenko again subbed for the injured Murphy. Thanks to Ratmansky for picking these two corps members for such important roles. They got the loudest applause at the end and both seemed to thrive with this great opportunity in such difficult roles. I hope McKenzie gives them more opportunities in the future.

The second cast in Symphony #9 was a big disappointment, as it had been last fall, and there were no calls in front of the curtain. Lots of detail disappears in their portrayals, especially Bolle and Part in the lead roles. I suppose they all looked worse after seeing the possibilities from the first cast.

E.g., toward the end, Gomes holds Seminova high overhead in a one-armed lift, while she is in a backbend draped over his head, while he turns smoothly around in circles. Bolle used both hands to hold Part overhead and jerked in quarter turns to get around. I noticed the same difference last fall and wondered if I just remembered it wrong (which wouldn't be the first time), but it happened again. E.g., Jared Matthews is capable, but nothing can compete with the amazing Cornejo, especially in the entrechat sideways exit. E.g., In the first cast, Craig Salstein throws himself with abandon near the opening into a sideways catch by the men. Sascha Radetsky barely left the ground and seemed nervous about being caught.

The set in Piano Concerto (all those red pieces on strings) seem to move up and down at random. I caught a hammer-and-sickle at one point, but that doesn't seem to be the intent. Overall, much less interesting (and less distracting) than the detailed backdrop in Symphony.

Peter Martins was in the audience (orchestra, about the tenth row, on the aisle) for all three pieces.


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