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The score is played live, without recorded extracts.

 

Edited to add: I see that Chicago's Joffrey Ballet has just announced its 20/21 Season.  It is to include a new work by Cathy based on Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."  Those appalled at The Cellist being twinned with Dances at a Gathering may shudder at the prospect of the new work being twinned with Balanchine's Serenade.

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1 hour ago, Ian Macmillan said:

The score is played live, without recorded extracts.

 

Edited to add: I see that Chicago's Joffrey Ballet has just announced its 20/21 Season.  It is to include a new work by Cathy based on Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."  Those appalled at The Cellist being twinned with Dances at a Gathering may shudder at the prospect of the new work being twinned with Balanchine's Serenade.

 

It may just be me --- but if The Cellist had been paired with Serenade I think there may well have been more tonal diversity somehow in the double bill for many people ... but, of course, no one would have known that in advance.  That said I do SO love the many life enriching aspects of DAAG that I really am delighted it is as it is just now.  I look forward to seeing The Cellist again. Someone told me tonight that the second performance was 'brighter'.  

Edited by Bruce Wall

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People I spoke to who'd seen both nights seemed to think the second night was better.

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18 hours ago, annamk said:

Gerald Dowler, Classical Source, gave it 1* (and I have to say I agreed with every word)

 

I just looked out his review (1* reviews are often instructive even if one doesn’t agree, which I don’t):—

 

http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_concert_review.php?id=17085

 

The concluding list of RB recent pieces he didn’t like made me think:—

 

>>Wayne McGregor’s dreadful Raven Girl and Christopher Wheeldon’s half-baked Strapless through the dull predictability of Hofesh Shechter’s Untouchable, Arthur Pita’s ridiculous The Wind and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s laughable Medea – all gone, we fervently pray, but not forgotten, to serve as a warning to future generations

 

He’s forgotten Acosta’s head-in-the-hands embarrassing Carmen (and it was Medusa not Medea) but one gets the point. The generally low standard makes Cathy Marston’s achievement stand out even more. IMHO. 

 

Edited by Geoff
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8 hours ago, alison said:

People I spoke to who'd seen both nights seemed to think the second night was better.


I certainly found the second performance much more compelling but I think that was because I knew more of what was coming. The first night I was a bit worried by the more literal depictions of playing the cello but seeing the second performance these seemed to take less time and readily gave way to the more abstract presentation of the spirit of music. The stance both Jacquelines use when sitting to play the cello is very ‘unballetic’, particularly when there is no cello, but on second viewing it didn’t seem overdone. And some of the more literal depictions I thought worked well - Lauren Cuthbertson holding Marcelino Sambe’s neck when taking to the concert platform to be mirrored when Hetty Snell came on stage for her so well deserved bow at curtain call. Similarly the score worked better for me on second hearing although I’m still not sure about the recurring four note motif that Philip Feeney introduces.

 

I have since wondered why we see a young Jacqueline and her sister but only a full sized cello. I recall struggling with my half size cello back as an 8 year old in primary school, which seemed as big as me then, but I guess Marcelino Sambe as well as dancing the cello is also the narrator.

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John, down the years, I have generally found that I've got more from Cathy's work on each repeated viewing.  There is usually a lot of detail to absorb in the telling of complex stories and it can pay to be aware of what's happening to the side or back of the stage.

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Excellent and surprising (to me) review of The Cellist by Will Gompertz, the BBC Arts Editor, on the BBC website. He starts with the thought that the concept of beauty suffered under 'the relentless march of modernism with its frigid less-is-more dogma and strict no-frills dress code', and that classical ballet was one of the victims of this; he considers this 'a shame' (which is a rather milder verdict than I would pass, but never mind). I'm not sure how often he goes to ballet, or why The Cellist in particular should have brought produced this epiphany for him, but he does go to the heart of the matter when he says 'beauty should be cherished not banished. It is not uncool or naff, it is an ideal worth believing in and striving for and appreciating'. Amen to that!

 

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-51591280

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Bridie: You must have found it just as I was doing so for today's Links, and I agree that it has a very special quality to it.  Will Gompertz has written preview/interview pieces from time to time but, In 10 years of doing Links, I can't recall his having put up a review before.  The Cellist certainly seems to have made an impression on him.

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Have just read that review Bridiem on the BBC news page and found it strangely moving in itself. The piccie of Sambe holding a lifeless de Pre is so heart breaking even out of context. Can’t wait to see this on Tuesday now. 

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What a thought provoking and moving review. Hear, hear, Mr Gompertz.

 

To add, I haven’t seen the Cellist but I’m agreeing with the spirit of the review.

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3 hours ago, bridiem said:

Excellent and surprising (to me) review of The Cellist by Will Gompertz, the BBC Arts Editor, on the BBC website.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-51591280

 

During the 15th Feb episode of Radio 5 Live's Fighting Talk he was asked where he was when the news of the Man City European ban was announced the previous day, his answer was 'at the ROH watching a new ballet, The Cellist' and went on to give it '5 stars'....so either his review is of the rehearsal or he'd reviewed it after seeing it twice

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I can’t wait to see The Cellist in cinemas, even if we in the USA have to wait a bit longer. 

 

Thanks for the link to the touching and insightful BBC review, Bridiem! I couldn’t agree more with the concept that Beauty is not treasured as it was in years past. When did “Beauty” become an ugly word?

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17 minutes ago, Rob S said:

 

During the 15th Feb episode of Radio 5 Live's Fighting Talk he was asked where he was when the news of the Man City European ban was announced the previous day, his answer was 'at the ROH watching a new ballet, The Cellist' and went on to give it '5 stars'....so either his review is of the rehearsal or he'd reviewed it after seeing it twice


On first reading I was rather hoping you were referring to Pep Guardiola ...

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There's currently a link to the piece on the 'front page' of the BBC's online news, captioned 'The Cellist: it's even better than Strictly'.

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I am pleasantly surprised by the coverage that the BBC has given The Cellist ( perhaps there are plans to screen it sometime this year following the live broadcast - they did this for Woolf Works and Frankenstein). I know Will Gompertz is a general arts critic , but I was a tad disappointed how little he wrote about the dancing, including no mention of Matthew Ball. Also a slightly skewed review around the notion of beauty. However he reviewed a ballet!!

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And, hurrah, Will Gompertz gives Lauren Cuthbertson the acknowledgement she deserves, "one of the finest dancers of her generation, gives a wonderfully nuanced and intelligent performance.

 

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I've just come back from the cinema screening of this double bill.  I am grateful to those who explained and/or critiqued 'The Cellist' beforehand because it made me go with lowered expectations, which were then exceeded.  I thought Cuthbertson and Sambe were super - really moving (and moved) in their portrayal.  Sambe was a bit like an adorable pet!  The set was fine - not too busy for me - as it added punctuation to the ongoing story and helped to explain where we were.  Maybe it was more intrusive in a live viewing.  I thought Feeney did a good job with the score.  Marston just about stayed on the right side of bathos although I do find her choreography a little gauche at times.  It did feel as though, having been commissioned to produce a work that lasted about an hour, she had stretched it out just a bit more than was necessary.  I rather liked the way the corps were used to fill in background detail - at times it was even amusing (intentionally I hope).  Barenboim, we were told, had asked for someone handsome to dance his part, and he certainly got that wish fulfilled in the elegant Ball.  I didn't envy the ROH cellist, Snell, having to play in du Pre's shadow so to speak - she did a decent job but one's musical memory was haunted by du Pre's unparalleled original renditions.

[As an aside, I once bumped into Jackie, when she was in a wheelchair.  I think it was at the Royal Festival Hall where she was in the next box to us during Barenboim's concert series of Beethoven's piano sonatas.  How he managed to memorise all 32 and play them one after the other is beyond my comprehension.  What a gifted pair they were.]

Dances at a Gathering was delightful - except for the piano accompaniment which at times didn't do justice to Chopin's exquisite score.  I have played most of those pieces myself and at times I cringed.  And what's the name of the presenter who isn't Darcey Bussell?  Not only could she not pronounce Chopin's name correctly, but she didn't even know how to pronounce 'etudes'!!  If I go to another ROH screening I will make sure to avoid the pre-show talk.  But on to the good stuff - the choreography was charming and I particularly loved Bonelli and Nunez' duet during the slow, Polish traditional melody section of the Scherzo (which was actually played decently).  I think Bonelli is having a kind of Indian summer because he's quite amazing lately.  Hayward was very lovely too, and although she had a technically easier solo, Laura Morera's wonderful personality simply shone out during her too-brief section.  All of the dancers were good and really seemed to be enjoying themselves!

Please excuse lack of diacritics above but I am tired and lazy tonight.

 

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I saw the live screening of this bill at the Ritzy in Brixton tonight. No sound at all until just before curtain up! Which was a bit disappointing (no idea what Christopher Wheeldon was saying) and stressful (in case the sound never materialised, but fortunately it did in the nick of time).

 

I found Dances at a Gathering absolutely breathtaking, from beginning to end. I've only seen it a few times, and not for many years, and I felt as if it was the first time. Alexander Campbell's opening solo was so beautiful and so beautifully danced that I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven. And really that continued for the rest of the piece. Gorgeous music, constantly interesting and absorbing and beautiful choreography, and tremendous dancing from all the cast. Towards the end, when the whole cast stood looking out and up, slowly moving their gaze from one side of the auditorium to the other, each one lost in thoughts, feelings, reflections, I felt moved to tears. Will Gompertz's article last week about beauty came to my mind in respect of this work which distilled all I love about classical ballet and was performed to the highest possible standard.

 

Unfortunately I didn't feel the same about The Cellist. Possibly it will look better in the theatre (I'm seeing it on Friday); possibly filming did it no favours because of all the people milling around and the low level of lighting. But it seemed to me to be murky and turgid and messy, and although it had a few good moments (the orchestral surge in the Elgar Cello Concerto, the wedding, the solo for the child Jackie near the end) I never felt invested in the characters (even when I knew who they were) and I found the choreography for the leading characters largely clumsy and inexpressive and the use of the other dancers a strange combination of symbolic and literal and not working on either level. There were obviously a lot of ideas going on, but ideas have to be translated into effective choreography. The dancers all did as well as they could, especially Cuthbertson and Sambé, but I didn't feel the production was worthy of them. BUT, I hope I may get a different impression on Friday when I will be seeing the whole stage from above and so may be able to see what was going on more clearly.

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Agree about Bonelli's 'Indian summer' and Morera was just utterly exquisite in DAAG- it was worth the rotten trudge through very cold slush just to see her- but also a fizzing and joyous Campbell, and delicious Hayward, Nunez, Naghdi- what a lovely treat to see them on the stage together. Dances AAG seemed to work better in the live screening funnily enough- I got more involved in it. I agree with all who have said it can drag sometimes; not tonight though.

 

Sambe was indeed quite outstanding in the Cellist and so was Cuthbertson; I so much wanted to like the piece,  but the style of choreography just leaves me  cold. The wonderful dancers- apart from Sambe who got the best choreography by far apart from the excessive air cello- seemed rather wasted (pretending to be lamps and record players) and I couldn't believe the number of rather ungainly, sometimes absurd,  postures that were achieved in one hour. It seems an odd way to treat such beautiful dancers. I felt du Pre was shown far too much being tugged, heaved, hauled about, and it didn't do justice to her personality or achievement,  in my view.

The score mixing up snippets of music with a sort of film score I also found a bit thin and unsatisfying.

Very unusual for me to leave a RB perfomance feeling disappointed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our posts crossed bridiem- we had the same reaction evidently! It is rather reassuring to know it isn't just me.

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Too late to be coherent now but just to say Dances was truly beautiful and heavenly for me ( this piece has a special place in my heart though) and I loved the Cellist found it really moving a bit more tomorrow. 

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Oh dear - I hardly recognise The Cellist from some of the foregoing, but there we are.  I found the addition of closeups all helped both ballets tonight and I think that a second viewing has sealed the narrative arc in my memory now.  The audience reaction tonight sounded much louder in its appreciation than on Opening Night but I'd also add that, in our cinema, the sound level seemed a bit on the loud side.  No idea whether that was caused by a volume selection at our end or in what was transmitted from the ROH.

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I sat at amphi tonight and found myself really invested in the cellist in a strange way. I do agree with the points that there were sometimes too many things moving on the stage and many of them were pretty abstract. A lot of times when I was still trying to digest what was the meaning of this and that, my attention deviated from main characters... But I really enjoy the light design for the Cellist, the light and shade were dreamy, deep and graphical in so many moments! I enjoyed Sambe's expressive movements the most, but Lauren and Ball were also exquisite!! 

 

Edited by cloudbuff
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55 minutes ago, Ian Macmillan said:

The audience reaction tonight sounded much louder in its appreciation than on Opening Night but I'd also add that, in our cinema, the sound level seemed a bit on the loud side.  No idea whether that was caused by a volume selection at our end or in what was transmitted from the ROH.

 

In my experience, it seems to be down to the individual cinema: we've asked for the sound to be turned up or down before.  Mind you, that may have been on an Encore showing rather than live.

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I saw this at the cinema last evening.  Dances at a Gathering was lovely, if a bit long - wonderful performances from all the dancers.  The Cellist was very moving but was spoiled for us when the live feed suddenly cut off just in the last few minutes!   We were told it was due to the ballet over running.   It did tell her story well, though I got a bit confused at times with chorus.  I thought Cuthbertson, Sambe and Ball were extremely good - just sorry not to see the final scenes.

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6 minutes ago, Margaret said:

The Cellist was very moving but was spoiled for us when the live feed suddenly cut off just in the last few minutes!   We were told it was due to the ballet over running.

 

That's crazy! They know it's a live performance and the timings are approximate, and it can't have 'overrun' by much. It clearly wasn't the ROH feed cutting off since other cinemas were OK, so why would a cinema have a time limit?!

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That’s really annoying Margaret as I found those final moments of the cello ...without its player .. ..running around completely lost desperately moving. 

We had a three minute break in transmission in the middle of Dances and was worried was going to miss Laura’s solo but came back just in time! 
I have to say though that never feel Dances is too long ..  it could happily send me on my way in fact!! Forever in Heaven 😊

 

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Does anyone know of any plans to release a DVD of last night?

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20 minutes ago, LinMM said:

That’s really annoying Margaret as I found those final moments of the cello ...without its player .. ..running around completely lost desperately moving. 

We had a three minute break in transmission in the middle of Dances and was worried was going to miss Laura’s solo but came back just in time! 
I have to say though that never feel Dances is too long ..  it could happily send me on my way in fact!! Forever in Heaven 😊

 

At the risk of being banned from the forum, I would happily have,seen a repeat performance of DAAG rather than The Cellist!

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