DARK AND LIGHT BY TURNS
RODERIC DUNNETT writes about 'Arthur Part 1: Arthur Pendragon'
in the light of the recent London première
Whatever one feels about the dramatic impact of Arthur, the latest
collaboration between leading British choreographer David Bintley and the
accomplished Liverpool-born composer John McCabe (born l939), it is, certainly
in one sense, another triumph for both the composer and Bintley's company,
the impressive Birmingham Royal Ballet.
it reflects, vastly to BRB's credit, Bintley's commitment not just to new
work, but to working with contemporary composers in the very front rank.
McCabe's output embraces the whole range : his chamber and especially piano
works (he is himself an outstanding, effectively virtuoso, performer of
both new and classical repertoire) spanning four decades are among the finest
by any British composer. In addition to his symphonies and orchestral works
(the Variations on a Theme of Hartmann, for instance), his sequence
Notturni ed Alba, for soprano and orchestra, had placed him in the
very front rank by the time he was 30.
Arthur is Bintley's second collaboration with McCabe. Two years
ago his Edward II, equipped with a challenging score from McCabe
of quite extraordinary power as well as alluring beauty, proved one of the
most exciting ballet events of the second half of the 20th century, placing
Birmingham - alongside groundbreaking companies like Stuttgart, the Danish
Royal Ballet and Australian Ballet - firmly in the fold of those capable
of delivering fresh, original and riveting new work. Hyperion's well-timed
recent recording of Edward II, moreover, offers the chance to savour
in its own right the range of ensemble and solo writing in McCabe's endlessly
Copyright © 12 June 2000 Roderic Dunnett,
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