When Hans van Manen, William Forsythe and George Balanchine meet, it's a summit. The Vienna State Ballet's new programme “Shifting Symmetries” unites these three masters in an evening of dance that traces the map of 20th century ballet. On 27 December 2023 Hans van Manen's “Concertante” and George Balanchine's “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet” can be seen in a recording from the premiere on 23 December in the Vienna State Opera's streaming programme. “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” cannot be shown as William Forsythe only allows live performances of this work.
Hans van Manen created “Concertante” in 1994 for Nederlands Dans Theater 2 to Frank Martin's “Petite Symphonie Concertante” – music whose wealth of expression, dynamic rhythms and forceful character inspired him to choreograph a ballet in which eight dancers become momentarily attached to and detached from each other again like the pieces of a puzzle; at times joyfully, at times bristling with eroticism, at times filled with aggression, always full of surprises and yet following their own inner logic. Like a crime drama, complex structures within the space and strictly defined sightlines build an unresolved tension.
George Balanchine's 1966 »Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet« is a tribute to Marius Petipa. Inspired by the magnificent orchestral version of Johannes Brahms' Piano Quartet G minor, Op. 25, which Arnold Schönberg composed in 1937 and proudly labelled “Brahms's Fifth Symphony”, Balanchine created four miniature ballets for a total of 55 dancers: full of elegance in the Allegro, full of romanticism and lyricism in the two central movements, and exhibiting an intoxicating virtuosity in the “alla Zingarese” finale with its elements of folk dance. “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet” is not one of Balanchine's experimental works: it is a thrilling celebration of dance and the orchestra, suffused with echoes of a grand Austro-Hungarian musical tradition that is heard through Brahms and Schönberg as well as reminders of the marvellous divertissements of Marius Petipa, where the roots of Balanchine's neoclassicism originated