Top 10 (+1) Dance Classical Music Treasures of 2013
In 2013, dance and classical music were distinguished by their breadth of expression and eloquence
1) 'MOZART DANCES' (Mark Morris Dance Group/Texas Performing Arts) Startlingly virtuosic dance, so spectacularly in sync with both the notes and playful spirit of the Austrian composer's scores that it felt as if music and movement flared from the same creative spark.
2) SCHUMANN: 'FANTASIE IN C MAJOR' (Rick Rowley/Butler School of Music) A thrillingly expressive declaration of love at Rowley's hands, encompassing thunderous passion that could cleave an oak and the tender intimacy of a kiss on the wind.
3) ALL-BEETHOVEN RECITAL/THE COMPLETE STRING QUARTETS OF BEETHOVEN, CONCERT 3 (Miró Quartet/Butler School of Music) UT's Fab Four devoted 2013 to the classical Oberherr's string quartets, and the concerts I heard felt like one extended conversation – at times turbulent, at times gentle, at times sporting, but always eloquent and urgent, conducted with striking clarity, ardor, and sensitivity.
4) 'AS HOLY SITES GO'/'DUET' (Deborah Hay Dance Company/Fusebox Festival) An encyclopedia of steps and gestures, penned invisibly by Deborah Hay and set down with mesmerizing precision by Ros Warby and Jeanine Durning.
5) 'THE UNDOING OF NONET' (Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company) The slow, inevitable unraveling of a unit, chronicled with a rare delicacy by Hamrick and her dancers and given an articulate pulse by line upon line percussion.
6) BRAHMS: 'PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1' (Austin Symphony Orchestra) A wide-ranging tour as fraught with hazards and drama as a trek through the Himalayas, but guest pianist Yefim Bronfman navigated every step with masterful authority.
7) 'POWERUP' (Forklift Danceworks) The daily routines of Austin Energy workers served as the basis for Allison Orr's choreography, but it was these employees' service to us all that truly dazzled and inspired.
8) 'BACH PLUS: ELEGANT CRAFT, ARDENT EXPRESSION'/'CONSPIRARE CHRISTMAS' (Conspirare) Kin concerts of Craig Hella Johnson doing what he does so well: following his muse through musical landscapes where he sees links. Inside the glorious architecture of Bach, he connected Mahler, Pärt Uusberg, and Langston Hughes. On his holiday tree this year, he strung together Britten, Burton Lane, and the Bee Gees, with Ruthie Foster's voice on spirituals opening the way to heaven.
9) 'THE RITE OF SPRING' (Ballet Austin) No riots at BA's centenary salute to Stravinksy, but Stephen Mills' choreography found the score's pounding, primal heart, and Michelle Thompson's turn as the sacrificial maiden was powerfully raw.
10) AUSTIN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA WITH QUATTRO MANI On a fine program mixing old and new music, the 21st century works by Fitkin and Lansky struck sparks – the former deliciously mercurial, the latter pleasurably suspenseful.
11) 'A GERMAN REQUIEM' (Texas Choral Consort) Majestic, oh yes, but Brahms' groundbreaking work was even more affecting with the choir softened to a still, small voice.