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New York City Ballet: Liebeslieder Walzer, Glass Pieces
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New York City Ballet: Liebeslieder Walzer, Glass Pieces

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Liebeslieder Walzer
Glass Pieces

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: Andrew Litton
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Associate Dir. Communications: Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate: Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 27, 2016

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Liebeslieder Walzer (1960): Music by Johannes Brahms (Opus 52 and Opus 65), Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Pianists: Andrews Sill and Susan Walters, Singers: Boya Wei, Soprano, Melissa Fajardo, Mezzo-Soprano, Blake Friedman, Tenor, Zachary James, Bass, Performed by Megan Fairchild, Rebecca Krohn, Lauren Lovette, Tiler Peck, Jared Angle, Chase Finlay, Russell Janzen, Amar Ramasar. 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).

With duo pianists on one piano, four opera singers (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass), and two complete "Parts", Liebeslieder Walzer is a sumptuous production. Karinska's elegant costumes, of satin, taffeta, tulle, ribbons, short heels, and black tie and tails, plus David Mitchell's salon, with floor-ceiling windows, rounded, open doors, distant sunset, and chandelier, create a vision of opulent Vienna, mid-19th Century. Rebecca Krohn and Russell Janzen evoked impassioned ebullience, while Lauren Lovette threw herself, soulfully, into this imagined romantic salon with Jared Angle. Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar waltzed with seamless and buoyant confidence, while Megan Fairchild and Chase Finlay added casual humor and camp. The first Part exuded an air of fashionable pursuit, while the second Part exuded surreal classicism, mature and rapturous.

Varied glances and hand gestures were noticeable among this seasoned cast. Radiance and joy infused the waltzes, while interludes brought out the nuanced, casual, silent repartee. The men were chivalrous, the women all-knowing. A worldliness emanates throughout both Parts. Andrews Sill 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 imagery of this regal setting and flowing, formal costumes, a lighter, tonal 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. The mental image I left with was one of Meissen porcelain figurines coming to life in a private ballroom, long ago.

Glass Pieces (1983): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Production Design by Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Conductor: Clotilde Otranto, Performed by Unity Phelan, Joseph Gordon, Emilie Gerrity, Peter Walker, Laine Habony, Preston Chamblee, and the Corps de Ballet.

It was wonderful to experience Glass Pieces again, with the striking multiple, moving silhouettes and the spellbinding score. Rubric is contemporary and energized, with the full cast walking rapidly, in bright casual costumes, occasionally spinning or lunging, before and after sets of dancers stop for three pastel pas de deux. Facades is more mesmerizing, with Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar in a slower pas de deux, as the silhouetted corps moves in punctuated steps across the dim background. There is a contrast of rhythms, as staccato and silky choreography plays out against each other. Ms. Krohn and Mr. Ramasar were at their finest, like stark surreal statues in motion. Akhnaten brings out the best in the male corps, with hormonal jubilance and natural, percussive coordination.

Glass' music, in 3/6 measures of repetitive music, is a mix of drama, percussion, poignancy, and momentum. Akhnaten is scored to Glass’ opera of the same name, while Rubric and Facades are from Glassworks. This music is spellbinding, as is Robbins’ ballet. Clotilde Otranto is the consummate maestro, and she brought out the magnetism of each pulsating or elongated phrase. The Corps was splendid.

Kudos to all.

Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar
in Jerome Robbins' "Glass Pieces"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

The David H. Koch Theater
Photo Taken the Night of the 9/15 Lunar Eclipse
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

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