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New York City Ballet: Liebeslieder Walzer, Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2
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New York City Ballet: Liebeslieder Walzer, Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2

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New York City Ballet

All Balanchine

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Assistant to the Ballet Master in Chief: Sean Lavery
Guest Teacher: Merrill Ashley
Children’s Ballet Master: Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director: Fayçal Karoui
Chairman of the Board: John L. Vogelstein
Managing Dir. Communications and Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director Communications, Joe Guttridge
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 17, 2010

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Andrews Sill

Liebeslieder Walzer (1960): Music by Johannes Brahms (Opus 52 and Opus 65), Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Pianists: Richard Moredock and Susan Walters, Singers: Ashley Emerson, Katherine Rohrer, Michael Slattery, Thomas Meglioranza, Performed by Darci Kistler, Jennie Somogyi, Janie Taylor, Wendy Whelan, Jared Angle, Sébastien Marcovici, Philip Neal, Justin Peck. Brahms composed the first set of "Walzer" in 1969, which was so successful that he composed the second set on 1874. Balanchine used both sections to celebrate the social dances of Vienna, mid 19th Century. Part I is domestic and intimate, with Part II more theatrical. (NYCB Notes).

Tonight’s performance of Balanchine’s two part Liebeslieder Walzer, to Brahms’ Opus 52 and Opus 65, was mature, rapturous, and noteworthy for varied glances, hand gestures, and casual nuance. This cast is seasoned, except for Justin Peck, sometimes too seasoned, as they are so familiar with each pas de deux, as well as the onstage sitting and gazing, as the other partnered couples perform. Darci Kistler, the most seasoned and soon to retire, seemed radiant and filled with joy every time she took the floor with Jared Angle, her caring partner. She’s still light of foot, and Mr. Angle was propulsive and intense. Jennie Somogyi was more serious in demeanor, the most interesting of the four women, and Sébastien Marcovici added elegance and sophistication in his partnering of Ms. Somogyi. Janie Taylor, a more wispy dancer, brought out the chivalry in Philip Neal, who is about to star in his own Spring farewell. Wendy Whelan was more severe, worldly in her approach, and Justin Peck mastered the genre capably as her partner.

Richard Moredock and Susan Walters were the duo pianists, professional and rhythmic, as each waltz swirled. However, the four singers were in need of fine tuning, and the rapturous German lyrics seemed leaden, dark, and despairing. Considering the rapturous imagery of this regal setting and flowing, formal costumes, a lighter vocal approach was called for. There are two scenes with changes in Karinska’s women’s costumes from gowns to tutus, as dreaminess sets in, while the male partners are in Karinska’s retro long-coated tuxedoes and white gloves. David Mitchell’s sumptuous tall French doors that open to shifting sky through Ronald Bates’ (now Mark Stanley’s) dramatic lighting add largesse to the stage that merges indoors and out. The mental image I left with was one of Meissen porcelain figurines coming to life in a private ballroom, long ago.

Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 (1964): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major), Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Gary Lisz, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Jonathan Stafford, Savannah Lowery, Sean Suozzi, Amanda Hankes, Christian Tworzyanski, Ashley Laracey and the Company.

Ashley Bouder and Jonathan Stafford led this original 1941 work that Balanchine revised first in 1964, and then again in 1973, from his original Ballet Imperial, with its more ornate set and costumes, to his less complex Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2. Ms. Bouder was in superb form, impeccable balance and sureness, and she took the stage by storm. Mr. Stafford, a more internalized dancer, attentively partnered her, without drawing attention away from her luster. Savannah Lowery, muscular and occasionally stiff, will grow into this role. She danced without caution and without the seasoned vibrancy that the role requires.

Of the other lead dancers, Sean Suozzi and Christian Tworzyanski were both riveting onstage, two artists to watch. The women, Amanda Hankes and Ashley Laracey, will also grow deeper into the challenging choreography. Of the Corps dancers, Marika Anderson, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Gwyneth Muller, Daniel Applebaum, and Chase Finlay caught my eye. Elaine Chelton provided a powerful piano interpretation of the Concerto’s dynamics. Gary Lisz’ costumes sparkled. I could not say the same for Andrews Sill’s conducting tonight, as the orchestra is predictably stronger and more in sync with the dancers, when Maestro Karoui is on the podium.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at