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New York City Ballet: Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Monumentum pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Duo Concertant, Symphony in Three Movements
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New York City Ballet: Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Monumentum pro Gesualdo, Movements for Piano and Orchestra, Duo Concertant, Symphony in Three Movements

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Stravinsky Violin Concerto
Monumentum pro Gesualdo
Movements for Piano and Orchestra
Duo Concertant
Symphony in Three Movements

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
Resident Choreographer: Justin Peck
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
September 21, 2016

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Stravinsky Violin Concerto (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrew Litton, Solo Violinist: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Robert Fairchild, Rebecca Krohn, Amar Ramasar, and the Company.

Tonight was my first seasonal ballet with the new Music Director, Andrew Litton, in the pit. He is still becoming accustomed to conducting ballets and to City Ballet’s expansive repertory. In Balanchine’s Stravinsky Violin Concerto, which the audience adores, the music was less severe and searing than in all previous performances. It was more melodic, sprightly, ebullient, and generally different. Yet, the masterful cast rose to the occasion, as always. Robert Fairchild, back from a Broadway musical, has become quintessentially virtuosic. His visual shapes and speed were remarkable. Partnering Sterling Hyltin, they did their best with the shift in orchestral rhythm. Their “Aria II” looked too much like Balanchine’s Rubies, also scored to Stravinsky, too joyful. Yet, Mr. Fairchild’s humility and charisma were striking. Ms. Hyltin created spider-like turns down on the stage, then wound herself in Mr. Fairchild’s arms, gazing out at the hall.

With a simple blue backdrop and black tights that extend below the slippers, Mr. Balanchine fashioned unembellished imagery for his four-movement work, re-choreographed for the 1972 City Ballet Stravinsky Festival. In the “Toccata”, Rebecca Krohn and Amar Ramasar joined Mr. Fairchild and Ms. Hyltin in leading an ensemble of sixteen. This ballet is replete with dynamic propulsion and daring partnering, and tonight’s superb casting needed more musical edge to maximize its surrealness. In fact, Mr. Ramasar and Ms. Krohn’s “Aria I”, again like Rubies, was imbued with tonal wit and charm, rather than the original sense of stark eloquence.

Monumentum Pro Gesualdo (1960): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, and the Company. Stravinsky's homage to Don Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, re-composes the madrigals into instrumental voices. (NYCB Notes)

Andrews Sill was in the pit for this pair (paired with the following Movements…) of Balanchine “black and white” gems, and Teresa Reichlen and Ask la Cour were sensationally cast for lanky, languorous luminosity. The madrigal-like orchestral score was composed in 1960 to honor Don Carlo Gesualdo, a treacherous Prince of Venosa. Although my first viewing years ago left me with soporific ennui; I now look forward to each viewing. Ms. Reichlen and Mr. la Cour led an ensemble of six male-female duos, shaping similar lines in partnered attractiveness. Ms. Reichlen shifted her long limbs into riveting imagery, with very attentive and intense partnering by Mr. la Cour. Mark Stanley’s lighting was critical to the dark backdrop and illuminated duo.

Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1958-59): Music by Igor Stravinsky (Movements for Piano and Orchestra), Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrews Sill, Piano Solo: Alan Moverman, Performed by Teresa Reichlen, Ask la Cour, and the Company. This piece is divided into five sections, and Balanchine paired this work with the previous one for performances. (NYCB Notes)

Alan Moverman played the Stravinsky piano solos here, with steady percussiveness and requisite, searing atonality. Once again, Teresa Reichlen and Ask la Cour appeared, making this ballet the second act to the previous one. Six female Corps create the full ensemble, expanding and enhancing the leads. The synchronized postures and shapes were gripping.

Duo Concertant (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Violinist: Arturo Delmoni, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley. Stravinsky had dedicated this "Duo Concertant" to Samuel Dushkin, a violinist friend, and the two performed this for years in Europe, starting in 1932 in Berlin. Balanchine choreographed to this score for the Stravinsky Festival, and Kay Mazzo danced with Peter Martins. (NYCB Notes).

I had chosen tonight’s cast specifically for Megan Fairchild and Anthony Huxley’s duo performance in this work. Balanchine’s Duo Concertant requires mastery of the sublime, with nuanced facial, hand, and arm gestures that glow in a spotlight. The two petite performers, so well matched in every way, went well beyond my fervent expectations. Nancy McDill at the piano with Arturo Delmoni on violin, for the incandescent Stravinsky score, glance and interact with the dance duo at the piano’s edge. The couple walks back and forth stage left to right, piano-violin to spotlight. The music is haunting. The dancers seemed to chat silently, absorbed by the music. Suddenly, as if by an internal spark, the two began dancing, in an abstract, but affectionate manner. This duo exudes ingénue charm, humility, warmth, and generosity of spirit. There’s chemistry and talent, with eager attention to detailed shadows in and out of the circular light.

Symphony in Three Movements (1972): Music by Igor Stravinsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor: Andrew Litton, Performed by Savannah Lowery, Andrew Scordato, Tiler Peck, Taylor Stanley, Ana Sophia Scheller, Daniel Ulbricht, and the Company. Symphony in Three… is the fifth of tonight’s Balanchine-Stravinsky collaborations. Mr. Litton was in the orchestra pit again, adding new flourishes to this renowned ballet score. In fact, the sound of the harp seemed more prominent than usual, and the rhythms were noticeably more rapid and percussive. A cast of crème de la crème dancers, including Tiler Peck with Taylor Stanley, Ana Sophia Scheller with Daniel Ulbricht, and Savannah Lowery with Andrew Scordato, had lead spotlights for this monumental, atonal ballet. Arms swept up and down like sharp rotor blades, legs were angular and strong, and ponytails swung from the female Corps’ swiveling heads with whirling pulsation.

This magnificent Balanchine choreography and the brilliantly simple leotards and tights create the vision of assemblages of dancers in stark white, in white/black, in all black, and lead women in shades of pink. The opening bars of Stravinsky's percussive, dissonant score are heard against the image of a diagonal formation of women in white. Kudos to Mark Stanley for the fluorescent-like feeling that he generates for this scene. A solo for one man, Section I, showcases a sideways leap, legs in perfect formation, bent upwards, as if the legs have no connection to the hips. An ensemble of ten Corps dancers led the second ensemble, followed by Ms. Peck and Mr. Stanley in the penultimate Section II pas de deux. The Company returned for Section III, performing with superb timing and agility, ecstatic elevation, lightning leaps, and seasoned technicality. Kudos to Balanchine, and kudos to Stravinsky.

Rebecca Krohn in
Balanchine's "Stravinsky Violin Concerto"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet in
Balanchine's "Symphony in Three Movements"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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