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 Post subject: Trisha Brown Stages Schubert's 'Winterreise'
PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2003 9:27 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Quote:
A Wanderer in Search of Solace

ALLAN KOZINN
NY Times

... in addition to the traditional opening-night orchestral concert, at Avery Fisher Hall, the festival presented a revival of the choreographer Trisha Brown's inventive staging of Schubert's "Winterreise," sung by the English baritone Simon Keenlyside, at the John Jay College Theater. <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/31/arts/music/31WINT.html target=_blank>more</a>


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 Post subject: Re: Trisha Brown Stages Schubert's 'Winterreise'
PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2003 11:57 am 
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Location: New York
Trisha Brown Dance Company

“Winterriese”
July 31, 2003, John Jay College Theater

by Holly Messitt

As I watched Trisha Brown’s choreography to Franz Schubert’s Winterriese, the song cycle Schubert wrote to Wilhelm Müller’s poetry, I couldn’t help but wonder at how amazingly well these two opposing temperaments worked together. The piece, which featured baritone Simon Keenlyside accompanied by pianist Pedja Muzijevic, first premiered at John Jay College Theater last December and was brought back last week for Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart festival.

Schubert’s highly emotive music epitomizes the German Romantic sensibility. Equally Romantic is the text, which uses the figure of a lonely, wandering young man to represent an internal search for the self, the link between the human and the divine. In opposition to this searching emotion and driving individuality, Trisha Brown’s reputation lies with the more stoic postmodern dance. So, it’s surprising to see the music and the movement work together at all. Though Winterriese is not Brown’s first foray into narrative and operatic choreography, this piece does demonstrate how the emotiveness of the music and the abstraction of the movement compliment each other.

With lines such as “Frozen drops fall/ from my cheeks,” and “every river will reach the sea,/ every sorrow, too, will reach its grave,” an overly-literal dramatization of the text risks sending the piece into melodrama. Instead, Trisha Brown’s movement adds enormous depth and power to Shubert’s work. At times she works to reflect the text, as when Mr. Keenlyside positions himself in front of the three dancers, Brandi L. Norton, Seth Parker, and Lionel Popkin, as they all raise and intertwine their arms to signify the motion of the Linden tree. In other instances she works with the mood of the music. At one point, the dancers cradle Mr. Keenlyside with their shins. They lie on their backs head-to-toe and bring their legs into a tuck to support Mr. Keenlyside as he reclines back and lets them bare his weight.

In “Good Night,” the first song of the cycle, Brown relies on just a word, “shadow,” as in “A shadow thrown by the moon/is my companion,” to stimulate the movement. Playing with Jennifer Tipton’s inspired lighting, Mr. Keenlyside steps forward on the stage to create an overpowering shadow that looms over a smaller shadow cast by Ms. Norton who circles him in the character of the wanderer’s lost lover. Equally impressive shadow play appears at the end of the cycle in “The Organ-Grinder.” Here Mr. Popkin crosses the back of the stage. He moves slowly and slightly, but when he raises his arm both his arm and his hand become distorted in the shadow, emphasizing the organ grinder’s “numb fingers.” The old man’s suffering in turn compels the young man to identify with his suffering and ask, “Strange old man,/ shall I go with you?/ Will you grind your hurdy-gurdy/ to my songs?”

The music alone has satisfied audiences for over 150 years, and some in the audience seemed unprepared to accept the change in performance style fully. Yet I found that the intuitive nature of the movement enhanced the overall effect of the music. The action happens very slowly, at about the same speed that the power of Mr. Keenlyside’s voice slips quietly into our consciousness.


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 Post subject: Re: Trisha Brown Stages Schubert's 'Winterreise'
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 10:02 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I've decide to consolidate our coverage of this remarkable production in one place to make a comparison of a range of views possible from both sides of the Atlantic and also to contrast the views of dance and music critics. Here are the UK reviews to date:



The singer's dance of death

The greatest of song cycles - Schubert's Winterreise - has been given a radical new look by baritone Simon Keenlyside and choreographer Trisha Brown. They explain to Ismene Brown in The Daily Telegraph.

Two young men died, a year apart. One was 32, and died suddenly; the other was 31, and his death was expected. They did not know each other, but between them they created the most moving work about young men and death that exists in music, perhaps in any art.

Simon Keenlyside, who has given Schubert's Winterreise a radical new look
The work is Winterreise, the "winter's journey" described in 1828 by Franz Schubert's music and Wilhelm Müller's poetry. In a narrative over 24 songs, a young man wanders through wintry landscape, thinking of the girl he loves but who threw him over for someone richer.

click for more

********************************

Winterreise
By Judith Mackrell for The Guardian


For years, Trisha Brown refused to allow music anywhere near her brainy, minimalist works. Now
she not only choreographs to her pick of the world's great scores but, in this new staging of Winterreise, tries to get dance and music deep under each other's skin. With baritone Simon Keenlyside performing alongside three dancers, the breath and muscle of his singing merge with those of the action.

In some sections, the dancers populate the world of Schubert's wanderer. As Keenlyside paces the stage, they assume the shapes of the trees, birds and sleeping villagers that the hero passes.

But much of the time, Keenlyside is not just travelling through this animate world but dancing in it, too.

click for more

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Winterreise - Barbican Hall
By CLEMENT CRISP for The Financial Times


Works of supererogation are, so ecclesiastical authority tells us, unnecessary for salvation. Doing more than you should, painting the lily, the extra jewel, sauce on sauce for a complex dish - this way lies vulgarity, let alone spiritual indigestion.

What then to make of Simon Keenlyside's decision to ask Trisha Brown to provide movement - I
hesitate to call it dance - to accompany Schubert's Winterreise, a song-cycle so complete, so devastating in its emotional austerity, as to need nothing save the male voice and the accompanying pianist, and a public prepared to surrender to its snowy bleakness.

click for more

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Winterreise
by allen robertson for The Times


CURIOUSER and curiouser. Depending on your point of view, this is either an overloaded recital of Schubert Lieder or an underfed dance performance.

Whatever else it may be, it’s a hybrid, a genetic modification which indicates that the format of a singer simply standing next to a piano will never again seem quite enough.

The American choreographer Trisha Brown, the doyenne of the new, has spent the past 35 years and more probing at the notions of what dance can be, and both where and how it can be performed.

click for more

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Shuffling around to Schubert
Rupert Christiansen reviews Winterreise at the Barbican for The Daily Telegraph


Simon Keenlyside isn't the first singer to dramatise Winterreise. Thirty years ago, I remember a ludicrous BBC television version in which Peter Pears, clad in Sherlock Holmes deerstalker, stumbled across the studio as paper snow was dropped all over him; more recently, on Channel 4, the director David Alden provided Ian Bostridge with a context of fashionable postmodern anguish. In neither case did the imagery do anything to illuminate Schubert's song-cycle.

click for more


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 Post subject: Re: Trisha Brown Stages Schubert's 'Winterreise'
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 1:41 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
A fellow Internet music lover wrote a thoughtful and sensitive review of Trisha Brown's Winterreise setting, and gave me permission to point to her review. I thought it was a refreshing review coming from someone who's not seen much dance, because it said so much about the emotive, communicative aspects of dance that, sometimes, we dance-oriented people tend to ignore in favor of technical trivia such as the number of pirouettes, etc.

Quote:
The idea of a choreographed Winterreise filled me with trepidation.. With this cycle the stakes are high : get it wrong, it's a disaster, but get it right....the prospect is intriguing. Among dance specialists, Trisha Brown, the choreographer, is something of an icon, and in ballet circles this was lauded when it premiered in New York. For song people, however, Winterreise is the icon, so it's hardly surprising there's a priori resistance to the idea. The secret, I think, is not to approach this as simply song with extras, but as a whole creation on its own merits..
more

There's also a link inside the review to more discussion of the dance by other list members who saw it.

--Andre


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 Post subject: Re: Trisha Brown Stages Schubert's 'Winterreise'
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 2:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Thanks Andre - it's a super review.


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 Post subject: Re: Trisha Brown Stages Schubert's 'Winterreise'
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 1:17 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
A right song and dance
Simon Keenlyside mixes music and motion to great effect while Colin Davis gets better and better. By Anthony Holden for The Observer

The classical repertoire being finite, record companies have long been sexing it up as brazenly as the dossier-doctors of Lord Hutton's worst dreams. Current instances include Bryn Terfel warbling the love theme from Titanic amid token Tchaikovsky and Brahms, Barbara Bonney teaming up with Michael Ball for West Side Story and Domingo emoting with Sting's guitarist, Dominic Miller. More than merely the dark art of 'crossover', this debatable trend is now spreading to the stages of our opera houses and concert halls.

For a decade and more, most major companies have been turning Handel's oratorios into operas, while Jonathan Miller and others have come up with ingenious stagings of Bach masses. We have grown accustomed to the most eminent soloists using their concerts as disc-plugging tours, even signing copies for fans in the foyer afterwards. But not until now had I seen a baritone dancing a Schubert song cycle.

click for more


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