Plaza Note:
7 March 2018

¶ Despite the awful weather — every curb an ankle-deep pond of slushy water — we got ourselves to Lincoln Center for the first of three Paul Taylor American Modern Dance events for which we have seats. Some notes: 

  • The three dances on the program were RosesConcertiana, and Cloven KingdomConcertiana was new; the other two ballets we have seen several times. 
  • And yet I had completely forgotten Roses as a dance. I’d also forgotten that there’s more to it than Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll. When that came to an end, the ten dancers — men dressed in grey, women in black — crouched at the back of the stage with their backs to the audience, and a couple in white (Michael Trusnovec and Eran Bugge) made a stately entrance to Heinrich Baermann’s Adagio for Clarinet and Strings. In all my years in classical radio, I managed never to learn of Baermann’s existence. He was a clarinettist, not a composer, and his Adagio is almost perfectly generic Silly Quarter sweetness. 
  • (Silly Quarter: 1815-1840. There is no other word for much of the music turned out during that time, nor for ladies’ fashions.)
  • Concertiana struck Kathleen as “a retread.” (She wasn’t in the best of moods, having walked from her office at Rockefeller Center, curb after curb after curb.) I thought that the solos were a trifle too long, but at the same time I’m always happy to watch Michael Novak. And, wow, Alex Clayton, one of the two new men! The choreography of Heather McGinley’s solo was less inspired. The corps went in for a lot of running back and forth at the back of the stage, often in silhouette, and this was strangely exhilarating. 
  • The music for Concertiana was composed by Eric Ewazen. Another new name. (Born Cleveland, 1954.) I liked the piece, which seemed to be a violin concerto, but I couldn’t say whether it was well put-together. Tonal, romantic, and old-timey, it could have been a movie score. (I was actually reminded of The Gift for a moment.) 
  • The last time we saw the other ballets, the company was still relying on recordings. What a treat it was to hear the Siegfried Idyll played live! And Cloven KingdomThat score is a mashup of Corelli, Henry Cowell, and Malloy Miller, with jump shifts between the courtly grace of the concerto grosso and a ritualistic drumming of exotic percussion instruments. (Exotic to the ballet, anyway.) The dancing makes the same leaps. We sit in the front row, from which we can look right into the pit. which for some might be a distraction; for us, it’s an added pleasure. 
  • Do the instrumentalists ever get to see the dances that they’re accompanying?  

We’ll be going again on over the weekend and early next week. 

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