Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
(Photo N. Razina)
I was struck this time by how laconic this ballet really is: there are no endless repetitions or lengthy, slowly building culminations—each emotional high point is made only once.
Another thing that I have always felt but couldn't quite formulate was how musically strong the score is. There many examples of that: the way innocent dancing melodies get distorted in the madness scene, mirroring the heroine's unsettled mind, and then they re-emerge as a shadow of former selves in the second act; or Adam's unerring choice of a solo instrument, like a forlorn sound of oboe when Albrecht comes to Giselle's grave, or a hauntingly serene viola solo accompanying the Second Act's Pas de Deux.
Choreographically, it was enormously gratifying to see that the foundation and pride of the Mariinsky—corps de ballet—are still the best in the world: the technique is impeccable, and the uniformity and the synchronicity is the marvel to behold.
|Photo by Susan Biddle for The Washington Post||Photo by Susan Biddle for The Washington Post|
Interestingly, in her 2005 interview, Lopatkina mentioned Mezentseva:
Q. I remember you said once that your favorite ballerinas are Galina Ulanova, Yekaterina Maximova and Galina Mezentseva. Of course, Mezentseva was the only one you had the chance to see on stage. Your choice isn’t surprising, but I'd like to know what you personally appreciate about these ballerinas?
A. They all had different personalities. Ulanova was sincere, she astonished balet-goers with her utter fidelity to human feelings. Maximova had exceptional physique and moved very beautifully. And Mezentseva—oh, she was serene, she was a queen, she had poise, beautiful lines and a profound dramatism. She cast a spell effortlessly. The strongest impression anyone has made on me was Mezentseva with her Dying Swan.
Dissanayake, N. Interview with Ulyana Lopatkina. Ballet Magazine, Jun/Jul, 2005
Kaufman, S., Mariinsky's ‘Giselle’: Less is more, Washington Post, February 10, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The foyer of the Hall was surprisingly dim. I checked in my coat at the dark cloak room (staff there used flashlights) and went towards the Hall. An usher tore off the stub of my ticket and let me in. As I grabbed a sandwich and a glass of wine (long line, dark counter, cash only, credit card processing line down) and sat down reading the Program, the Hall staff members hurried passed us yelling, “No power in the Hall, performance canceled 15 min ago, Joshua Bell in the lobby!” The small crowd, bewildered, streamed back to the entrance, and—lo and behold—there, in almost complete darkness, backed into the corner of the lobby near the cloakroom Joshua Bell whipped out his Stradivarius and proceeded to play his own variations on “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
He then said apologetically that he'd love to play at the Hall but the regulations forbid him to do so when there is no electricity, so the concert will have to be rescheduled. Having finished playing, he indulged the autograph collectors—a consolation prize, I guess…
And the day before president of this country, in his “State of the Union” address was talking about the enduring optimism and the “sputnik moment.” Yeah, right—when two inches of snow shut the capital of the great superpower down and the modern performance venue doesn't have a backup electric system. A “sputnik moment” indeed. And our tea party friends keep dutifully droning on their mantras, insisting that no investment in the infrastructure is necessary… What a ship of fools! By the way, in my 27 years of living in Leningrad, I don't remember a single concert being canceled because of the weather, and we routinely had up to three yards of snow lying around for five winter months, and the −15F° temperatures. Go figure… They talk about optimism? It seems to be entirely unwarranted. Better read "Decline and Fall..."
The Reliable Source, Violinist Joshua Bell rewards snowy fans with impromptu performance, Washington Post, January 27, 2011.The concert was indeed rescheduled, and took place exactly one week later, on February 2, 2011. The highlight of the evening, undoubtedly, was rarely performed Schubert's Fantasy in C. What struck me about Bell's playing was the tonal unity of his playing: rather than contrasting the timbres of playing in the low and high registers, he has achieved a remarkable consistency of sound. This reminded me of two kinds of dramatic sopranos: some, like Callas, seem to have several juxtaposing voices in one; others, like Sutherland, maintain consistency of tone throughout their wide diapason. Bell's violin playing definitely belongs to the latter school.
Scott Simon, Violinist Joshua Bell Plays On The Street Again, NPR Weekend Edition Saturday, January 29, 2011.
Robert Battey, Music review: Another memorable visit by violinist Joshua Bell, Washington Post, February 3, 2011.