Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dedicated to Argentina

Seiji Ozawa conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring 1968 /69 when he was a young man, the maestro was an old man and it was considered by the latter to be exact. It is, in the remastering 40 years later, frightening in its scope, darkness and perfection. This is the most fiece version you will hear of The Rite of Spring. And it is impossible to dance to. Ozawa conducted The Rite or "Le Sacre du Printemps" at such a pace that it would be impossible for Nijinsky's danse sacral to look anything but comical. I used stills here except for in a couple of spots- and even then I had to fool around with the speeds. You'll find Beatriz Rodriguiz, Zenaida Yanowsky, Alessia Barberini and Marie-Claude Pietragalla in those places.

I believe this recording of Ozawa with The Chicago Symphony captures the frenzy of the story better than any I've heard yet there can be no ballet performance set to it because of the tempo! That Stravinsky wanted it this way is not about a distaste for Nijinsky but rather the soul of an artist which must be followed. A genius, on the other hand, knows when to compromise and the ballet Le Sacre du Printemps was delivered in 1913. How did such a young Ozawa understand the, by then, silent intention of the maestro and deliver it by proxy 50 years later?

The dance. To me, there is only one choreography to Le Sacre du Printemps, one way that it comes full circle: the shockingly advanced ballet of Vaslav Nijinsky. How interesting though that Stravinsky urged the tempo beyond danceable. The music is perfect at the faster tempo, but the dance can't exist that way. Amazing paradox. The battle for a slower piece of music and a faster choreography may have been subtle and unspoken but it existed I am sure or Igor Stravinsky was not Igor Stravinsky. If choreography was animate, a living being, this thing was a scrapper, fighting for its life, unappreciated, arriving too early, only to survive 6 performances before being lost for nearly 70 years: the loneliest ballet ever written by the saddest and most tortured young genius ever to dance all set to a piece of music so profound and stunning time had to stop so that history could get ready. Dramatic. I don't believe so.

This work does not go away because it shouldn't.

There is something so compelling about "The Rite" that will not let go. It has been choreographed endlessly. Some should be forgotten, like MacMillian's. Some, like Tero Saarinen or Heddy Maalem, should be celebrated far, far more than they've been. Whatever your opinion, this music remains alive and it continues to speak very loudly to choreographers and others the world over. This 1913 collaboration between those great artists - and, yes the Universe - is so human and confessional and full to capacity. I believe we organically identify with something in Le Sacre du Printemps and can't stop because it is deeply primal, dangerously cerebral and mysterious in its spirituality and that the riot at it's debut was a mere reaction to that identifying.

But we have since accepted ourselves and and so can accept IT. - Fatova Mingus