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New York City Ballet: Concerto Barocco, See the Music..., Episodes, The Four Temperaments
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New York City Ballet: Concerto Barocco, See the Music..., Episodes, The Four Temperaments

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Concerto Barocco
See the Music…
The Four Temperaments

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, Music Director Designate, Andrew Litton
Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate, Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 6, 2015

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Daniel Capps

Concerto Barocco (1948): Music by John Sebastian Bach (Double Violin Concerto in D Minor), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, 1st Violin: Kurt Nikkanen, 2nd Violin: Arturo Delmoni, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Sara Mearns, Tyler Angle, and the Company. For my first spring 2015 ballet of this season, the experience could not have been more divine. Sara Mearns was ravishing and rapturous in Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, moving her head as her leg travels down to the floor, gliding then across the stage as if she were skating. This is a now a prima ballerina. New York has few of its own, of this caliber, who have both charisma and talent.

Rebecca Krohn, in the duo ballet with Ms. Mearns and partnered ballet with Tyler Angle, showed luminosity and fluidity, but not grandeur. Ms. Krohn has the potential for greater spontaneity and emotionality in making the music and visual form transport the viewer. Her torso is incomparable, with artistic line. She needs to connect more with the audience. Tyler Angle as well, one of City Ballet’s best male partners, is gallant and attentive, but, on his own, needs more sophisticated tone. The female corps ensemble of eight was precise, glowing, and focused. Kurt Nikkanen and Arturo Delmoni kept the violin solos and duo accompaniment brisk and buoyant.

See the Music… Exploration of the score for Episodes by Anton von Webern, Featuring Andrews Sill, New York City Ballet Orchestra, Daniel Capps conducting. Andrews Sill presented the “See the Music” segment, showcasing music by Anton von Webern. He spoke about Bach’s “Musical Offering”, which included the basis of von Webern’s “Ricercata in six voices”. Maestro Sill had the orchestra play the original theme, given to Bach by Frederick the Great of Prussia. Then he had the orchestra play Bach’s “Ricercata”, a six-voice fugue, based on variations of that theme. Then, we heard von Webern’s interpretation, used by Balanchine, as the score for the next work. Daniel Capps conducted the orchestra.

Episodes (1959): Music from the orchestral works of Anton von Webern, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Performed by Megan LeCrone, Sean Suozzi, Teresa Reichlen, Jared Angle, Jennie Somogyi, Craig Hall, Sara Mearns, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and the Company. Balanchine was enthusiastic about Webern’s music, which he felt left “the mind free to ‘see’ the dancing”. Martha Graham originally choreographed Balanchine “Episodes I”, danced by her Company, with Balanchine’s choreography used for a different section for his NYC Ballet dancers. In a third original section, Paul Taylor, then in the Graham Company, danced a third section. (NYCB Notes).

As an educator, I am in full favor of giving the audience background information and an informative listening preview to important music. The von Webern score for Episodes was nicely broken down and illustrated in the “See the Music”, previously noted. This abstract work is signature Balanchine, with upswept arms and ethereal beauty of ensemble friezes. The von Webern score is austere and severe, and the women's black leotards with flesh tights and men's white/black motif all enhance the sophisticated choreography.

Megan LeCrone was well cast with Sean Suozzi in their Symphony, Opus 21 pas de deux. Teresa Reichlen and Jared Angle’s Five Pieces, Opus 10 added a striking change in mood and lighting, in sensual, self-absorbed spotlights, especially with Ms. Reichlen's leotards and Mr. Angle’s in black. Their timing and partnering were to the second of the faintest of sounds.

Jennie Somogyi and Craig Hall’s Concerto, Opus 24 was mesmerizing, with Ms. Somogyi happily back dancing this season. Sara Mearns, who returned to the stage, and Adrian Danchig-Waring danced the final, Ricercata in six voices from Bach's "Musical Offering". They were the pros that they always are, and Ms. Mearns was a scintillating star, angular and glowing. Daniel Capps conducted the poignant, percussive passages with their tiny, exotic effects with ease. Kudos to Ronald Bates and Mark Stanley for their fascinating lighting concepts.

The Four Temperaments (1946): Music by Paul Hindemith, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Piano Solo: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Lydia Wellington, Peter Walker, Brittany Pollack, Daniel Applebaum, Emilie Gerrity, Cameron Dieck, Gonzalo Garcia, Ana Sophia Scheller, Jared Angle, Ask la Cour, Teresa Reichlen, and the Company. The score (solo piano and strings) was commissioned by George Balanchine from Paul Hindemith in 1940. This ballet appeared at the opening program of Ballet Society, now City Ballet. (NYCB Notes).

This final Balanchine “black and white” ballet, as they are called, referring to the basic, black and white leotards and blue-grey, lit backdrop, was The Four Temperaments, choreographed to Hindemith’s commissioned score. Elaine Chelton, pianist, performed this score with astounding grace and challenging, syncopated trills. The music also expanded the “Temperaments”, Melancholic, Sanguinic, Phlegmatic, and Choleric. This complex Balanchine work is abstract and atonal, but refreshing, Men carry the women off in scissor-legs motion, while staccato kicks and off-center balancing enunciate the choreography. Gonzalo Garcia led the Melancholic Variation with inherent speed and rambunctious resonance. Ana Sophia Scheller led the Sanguinic Variation with focus and persuasion. My two favorite Variations were the third and fourth, with the eloquent, Ask la Cour leading in Phlegmatic, with his signature regal posture, long torso, and driven momentum. Teresa Reichlen led the final Choleric Variation, with her extra-long limbs and direct gaze into the audience. Again, Hindemith's score was superbly rendered by Elaine Chelton and the orchestral strings, led by Daniel Capps.

Kudos to George Balanchine, on this all-Balanchine evening.

Gonzalo Garcia
in Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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