Friday, October 26, 2012

Vertical Roads



With EN, I saw the dance performance "Vertical Road" at the Rose Theater on Wednesday. Choreographed by London-born Akram Khan, to music by Nitin Sawhney, the performance was disappointing. It began with someone behind the curtain shaking it and it ended with the curtain falling down, an act of revelation that just did not materialize. The movements were uninspired, at one point featuring a dancer moving two others around like marionettes by waving his hand over their bodies. Supposedly inspired by the Sufi tradition and the Persian poet Rumi, it slotted some whirling dervish moves into a grammar dictated by modern dance. As EN put it, the production exoticized itself. The eight dancers, assembled "from across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East," was a politically correct version of multi-culturalism. The production was an object lesson in how not to do fusion.

*

The Takács Quartet was serenely brilliant last night at Alice Tully. In superbly balanced and blended playing, they brought out the concise wit of Haydn's String Quartet in D major, Op. 76, No. 5 (1797). I did not care much for Britten's String Quartet No. 2 in C major (1945), but the group played it beautifully. Edward Dusinberre, the first violinist explained the allusions to Purcell in the first and third movements and to Bach in the second. The quartet obligingly played the opening measures of the Purcell and Bach, and then the Britten, for comparison. After intermission, French Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin joined them to play Shostakovich's Piano Quintet in G minor (1940). WL remarked on his shading of even the softest notes. He had some of the qualities that WL admires in Glenn Gould, with none of the latter's eccentricities.

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