Review by Danny Gaisin
In traditional equestrian Dressage, the pinnacle demonstration is labeled “Airs above the ground”. The same sobriquet could certainly be attached to last evening’s Hamilton Philharmonic concert with the acclaimed quintet – CIRQUE de SYMPHONY whose routines boggles the mind and fascinates the viewer. Through fourteen musical selections, the acrobatic interpretations of the orchestral pieces were superb examples of entertaining theatre. However, acknowledging the evening was a symphonic concert event, some of the works were performed without distraction, more on this later.
Cirque’s team is composed of aerialists; hoop maestro; juggler and diablist. Whether flying above the musicians as well as over the front rows of audience; Oohs and awes proliferated. This scribe actually begrudged having to take notes and photographs as they sidetracked my concentration and focus. Soaring about 30 feet up, Vitali Buza brought credibility to John Williams’ Superman Theme. A photo, not words, is mandated to describe Vladimir Tsarkov’s juggling and un-spined posturing. Even the dropping of a ball seemed orchestrated, so quickly was it recovered. Danse Boheme by Bizet was a perfect counterpoint to his manipulations. His spinning is faultless and astonishing.
Irina Burdetsky brought a little humor to the evening with her funny but highly challenging hoop work. She finale-ed her presentation using what appears to be the Jolly Green Giant’s own Slinky toy™. Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Clowns” will never have the same mental image again.Watching Tania Holt incorporating silk drapes melded perfectly with the familiar theme from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. Tsarkov’s approximately six-foot diameter ring was the apparatus used to interpret Bernstein’s Candide. The performer rapid acrobatics seemed accomplished without spotting. How he avoids vertigo in incomprehensible.
During the post-interval Valkyries Ride; the aerialist used one hand and his handlers fed enough scope as to extend his circle from the rear of the stage to at least ten seated rows. Not only did the audience rise for a standing ovation; the orchestra members can be forgiven for ignoring both the score and the conductor herself! Even dedicated focus can be distracted. Watching Alexander Fedortchev on both rope and silk drape is pure ballet (but without the basic five positions or on-point). His physical strength and seemingly effortless manipulating of the twists; turns and 1800 repositioning astonishes us mere mortals.
Now the orchestra. From a dynamic and rousing Dvořák Carnival overture, to an interestingly tempo’ed De Falla ‘Fire Dance’; the orchestral readings were uneven. Smetana’s Bartered Bride excerpt was less disciplined and performed with noticeable technical errors. Conductor Gemma New is still in her podium honeymoon and obviously has yet to put her own imprimatur on the ensemble; even with the evident seating changes. After intermission, perhaps the whip was uncrated because the Glinka overture demonstrated that Ms. New was back in charge. Discipline carried on through the ‘Strum und Drang’ Polka and again in the Capriccio Espagnol with its solo theme introduction by concertmaster Sitarsky. Faultless even though the Cirque had two aerialists working just above the musicians’ heads. Back in my own TV Show days, the diversion of an overhead boom could sidetrack; two bodies up there surely = total de-focus!
One year that HPO made the O.A.R. TOP TEN list was as concert featuring two Broadway performers from the successful “THE WIZ” run; Methinks that last evening’s highly entertaining and deservedly Full House event is a definite contender for 2016.