REVIEW: Owen/Cox Dance Group compares and contrasts Bach and Hindemith, Ludus TonalisRead Now
Floyd Gingrich, Examiner
The music of Bach and Hindemith and its coordination with the dancers of the Owens/Cox Dance Group
The name of the program, Sunday June 7, was Ludus Tonalis, (tonal play) Paul Hindemith's 1942 crafted work for piano, which is only one of the last century's responses to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, as well as Chopin's and Scriabin's 24 Preludes in the 19th Century. In each case, one piece in each cycle represents each step in the chromatic scale. J.S. Bach wrote his opus to demonstrate the usefulness of the well tempered scale, which he invented. As far as is known, this performance is the first choreography set to this Hindemith opus.
The program began with an homage to J.S. Bach, as the dance team performed to Elizabeth Suh Lane's memorized playing of Bach's 1720 Partita no. 3, for solo violin. Ms Lane presented the entire suite with her normal fiery precision, blending Bach's dances with the modern inventions, even moving to different positions of the stage to interact with the dancers, who at times regarded her as a totem or a month late May pole. The Baroque music was not matched with 18th dance forms, but seemed quite at home with a modern day interpretation choreographed by Jennifer Owen.
Dr. Kairy Koshoeva, renowned pianist, and newly minted American citizen, played most of the Hindemith work (the sections not included were omitted due to choreographic issues). As Shakespeare excelled in poetic beauty withing the constraints of the sonnet, Hindemith demonstrated his musical ingenuity with the challenges he set for himself.
In a 1996 article in The Quarterly of the International Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry (ISiS-Symmetry), "Symmetry and Dissymetry in Paul Hindemith's 'Ludus Tonalis,'" Siglind Bruhn explores various stylistic, contrapuntal, and theoretical straitjackets he turned into music. He balanced historical styles, retrograde, etc., versions of contrapuntal lines, all of which might turn into a scholastic exercize in lesser hands.
Ms Koshoeva's performance of Ludus Tonalis was well synchronized to the dancer's movements, a nod to individual skills of the entire ensemble, and the melding skills of those performers, as well as the entire production staff. Even the size and nature of the dancers' movements were in keeping with the changing mood of Hindemith's score. Dr. Koshoeva's informed playing indicated her understanding of the complicated nature of the composer's wry games; her performance was musically cogent, a remarkable accomplishment.
An informal poll taken at the after-concert discussion indicated that most of the audience members did not hear any of Hindemith's games. Perhaps those secrets are only to be comprehended by select performers as they converse over the decades with the composer and unearth his treasures.
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