Photo: Richard Termine.
Last night I saw the Mark Morris show at Mostly Mozart: dances on Stravinsky's Renard, Hummel's E-Major Piano Trio, and Satie's Socrate. It's a very rich, in some ways emotionally complete evening, ranging from the fox-in-the-henhouse hijinks of Renard to the philosophical serenity of Socrate. The Hummel piece, Festival Dance, struck me most of all, because it's another uncanny instance of Morris's ability to illuminate abstract instrumental music through gesture and motion. I'm no Joan Acocella, but Festival Dance seems ready to join V (the Schumann Piano Quintet) and All Fours (the Bartók Fourth Quartet) in the gallery of classic Morris "music dances." As so many classical types have commented over the years, Morris and his crew tell you as much about the inner life of musical form as any panel of analysts, and they're a lot more fun. You see the contrasts between the principal themes, the contours of phrases, the development of motifs, the interplay of counterpoint, the demarcation of longer paragraphs, the nuances of emotion buried in each modulation or cadence. Best of all was the acting out of folkish rhythms in the finale of the Hummel: I said to myself, "That is what the music is about." I seriously believe that all conservatory students should be required to see Morris's work: they will learn to play more intelligently and more vividly. Georgy Valtchev, Paul Wiancko, and Colin Fowler, the musicians for the Hummel, gave a wonderfully alive performance, dancing on another plane.