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New York Philharmonic - Ballet Programme

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Not quite ballet, but a triple bill of ballet scores by the New York Philharmonic as part of their London tour this weekend.


The first score was Claude Debussy's Jeux, a ballet about a sexually charged tennis game according to the programme. I wasn't too taken with the music and can possibly live with not seeing the ballet, but I am somewhat intrigued with the entirely bonkers plot. The original story idea was supposed to climax with a plane crash.


The second piece was Bartok's 'The Miraculous Mandarin' which was stunning, and I'd love to see it performed as a ballet one day. If Scarlett runs out of ideas, maybe he could give this one a spin...


The last piece was the quite fabulous Puppet Petrushka. It turns out the NYP has a sublime sense of the ridiculous and whimsy, which made this one of the most charming orchestra performances I have seen. The puppeteering took place in front of the orchestra and was projected onto a screen so everyone could see the puppet action, which was intercut with the Orchestra mucking about and a small amount of pre-filmed sequences of people playing Petrushka, the Ballerina and the Moor.


Both the conductor and the orchestra played 'roles' in the storytelling, at times it was musicians not currently playing instruments having cups of tea or vodka on stage, lifting weights as a fairground strongman or holding up a speech bubble commenting on the puppet fight (Petrushka and the Moor), other times it was the entire orchestra playing musical chairs or undertaking a Mexican wave whilst staying perfectly in tune. The audience also got involved by screaming on command when the bear broke loose. (And there were some impressively loud screamers in the audience)


The only low point for me where the two short outbreaks of rhythmic clapping, one of my most intense bugbears, but clearly beloved by most of the audience.


I'm glad I went, and it was great to hear ballet scores performed by such an excellent orchestra. They also played a bit of Swan Lake as encore in Fridays concert - just beautiful.

Edited by Coated
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I was at their concert on Friday when  (as you said) we got the Swan Lake Act 1 waltz as an encore.  However, having seen 9 recent Royal Ballet Swan Lakes (as well as two recent ENB ones) I couldn't help but picture the dancers in my head, which was quite entertaining given how much faster the NY Phil were able to take it with no real dancers to accompany!

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