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New York City Ballet: Barber Violin Concerto, The Infernal Machine, Allegro Brillante, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3
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New York City Ballet: Barber Violin Concerto, The Infernal Machine, Allegro Brillante, Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Barber Violin Concerto
The Infernal Machine
Allegro Brillante
Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master, Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
Assoc., Communications &Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 8, 2013

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Barber Violin Concerto (1988): Music by Samuel Barber (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 14), Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by William Ivey Long, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Solo Violinist: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Jared Angle, Teresa Reichlen, and Jonathan Stafford. Barber, usually considered a classicist, moved into a contemporary motif with his "Violin Concerto", with its dissonance and starkness. This work includes melodic movements as well as a rapid scherzo. (NYCB Notes).

Peter Martins’ Barber Violin Concerto is not my most favorite of his choreographic repertoire, with its feverish, twitchy finale. But, there is an element of surprise. The first couple, Teresa Reichlen and Jonathan Stafford, is costumed for ballet, Ms. Reichlen in pointe shoes and tutu. The second couple, Megan Fairchild and Jared Angle, is costumed for modern dance, barefoot and contemporary. There are three movements and three motifs: Movement I includes both partners in contrasting rhythms and style, with Mr. Stafford and Ms. Reichlen dancing languidly and eloquently, while Mr. Angle and Ms. Fairchild danced seductively with extended leaps and wing-like arms.

Movement II includes a change of partners, as Mr. Angle and Ms. Reichlen dance a mesmerizing, melodic duet, visually entrancing and physically challenging. Movement III contains the grandest surprise, as Ms. Fairchild chases and attacks Mr. Stafford, leaping onto his back, grabbing his thighs and calves, poking and falling onto him, during a rapid “scherzo”. The last movement is at first adorable, but soon annoying. However, Ms. Fairchild exuded unbridled energy and angst in motion. Mr. Martins has choreographed a unique work to this fascinating score, and Daniel Capps led the Orchestra and Kurt Nikkanen, violin soloist, in brilliant fashion.

The Infernal Machine (2002): Music by Christopher Rouse, Choreography by Peter Martins, Costumes by Catherine Barinas, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Ashley Laracey and Amar Ramasar.

On second viewing this season, Amar Ramasar, Principal, once again partnered Soloist, Ashley Laracey, in this gripping, gyrating, powerful piece. Even more than before, Mark Stanley’s spotlight showcased propulsive motion in the dimness, with Catherine Barinas’ elegantly effective costumes. Mr. Ramasar and Ms. Laracey were again skillful and flawless in intertwining interconnectedness. Christopher Rouse’s electrically charged score was led by Andrews Sill in the pit, no easy feat. The audience seemed spellbound.

Allegro Brillante (1956): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Sara Mearns, Andrew Veyette, and the Company. The Tschaikovsky “Third Piano Concerto" was first written as a symphony and then altered to include piano and orchestra. Balanchine said that this ballet "contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes". (NYCB Notes).

Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante was radiating tonight, with Sara Mearns dancing the lead with Andrew Veyette. Ms. Mearns is more emotionally effusive than is Mr. Veyette, but Mr. Veyette can be quite high powered. Ms. Mearns was spinning like a top, truly drawing gasps in the audience. Mr. Veyette, too, spun tightly and vaulted about the stage, but he seemed tight, in presentation of affect. Clotilde Otranto was in the pit, a lively, buoyant conductor extraordinaire, and tonight’s pianist extraordinaire was Elaine Chelton, who brought out the exuberance and vivacity of this Tschaikovsky score.

Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 (1970): Music Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery and Costumes by Nicolas Benois, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Daniel Capps, Performed by Sara Mearns, Ask la Cour, Abi Stafford, Jared Angle, Ana Sophia Scheller, Daniel Ulbricht, Tiler Peck, Joaquin De Luz, and the Company. In 1947, Balanchine produced “Theme and Variations” for Ballet Theater. Tschaikovsky composed Suite No. 3 in 1884, and it was premiered in 1885. Nicolas Benois, son of Diaghilev’s ballet designer, created scenery and costumes for Balanchine. (NYCB Notes).

I was lucky to end my viewing season with two Tschaikovsky scores in a row. Balanchine’s Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3, with its four movements, the first three more surreal and filmy, the fourth more harmonious and structured, was simply silky tonight, a bucolic and sophisticated treat. Sara Mearns and Ask la Cour danced the “Élégie”, with its springtime, forest nymph motif. On recent viewing, Mr. la Cour had partnered Rebecca Krohn, here, and tonight Ms. Mearns exuded more personality and warmth, although Ms. Krohn’s interpretation had been sublime. Ms. Mearns was scintillating and sensual as she seemed to have absorbed the very enchanting music. Tonight, Abi Stafford was partnered by Jared Angle, once again, for the “Valse Mélancolique”, and, although there were some lovely passages, Mr. Angle seemed stiff, not at one with the music. Ms. Stafford was impish and fluttering, a sprite in motion.

In the “Scherzo”, Ana Sophia Scheller had last been seen partnered by Antonio Carmena. Tonight, Daniel Ulbricht was onstage. Mr. Ulbricht is filled with charisma and battery-powered buoyancy. He was well matched physically and stylistically with Ms. Scheller, and I’d like to see this partnership build. They should take on more pas de deux. For the finale, the “Tema con Variazioni”, Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz reprised a pas de deux they’re known for. On last viewing, Megan Fairchild had been partnered by Andrew Veyette in this fourth movement. There seemed to be more spark tonight, between Ms. Peck and Mr. De Luz, both dynamos and both filled with the passion for dance. Both Ms. Peck and Mr. De Luz are penultimate entertainers, eying the audience for approval, and the audience loved every minute. In the Corps, I noticed Harrison Ball, Peter Walker, and Daniel Applebaum, plus Brittany Pollack (Soloist) and Sara Adams.

Kudos to Peter Martins for a great Spring Season.

Sara Mearns in George Balanchine's "Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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