Houston Ballet

The conflation of sight and sound that is classical ballet provided a rousing evening on Tuesday when the Symphony of the Americas presented 'Music on Pointe' at the Broward Center's Amaturo Theater. When the hall's red curtain parted, the orchestra was seated further back on stage than usual to make way for the concert's special guest artists - Yuriko Kajiya and Jared Matthews, principal dancers from the Houston Ballet, one of America's major regional dance companies.

The nineteenth century romantic ballet was largely the creation of French-Russian choreographer Marius Petipa and it was Petipa's choreography that graced the Amaturo stage. Adorned in white, Kajiya and Matthews danced the Wedding Pas de Deux from Act III of Coppelia (to the music of Leo Delibes) with fluidity and grace. In the Pas de Deux from Act III (Aurora's Wedding) of the Petipa-Tchaikovsky collaboration The Sleeping Beauty, Kajiya exhibited delicate grace, her spins nothing less than stunning. Matthews' partnering was superb with his lifts flawless. The dancers received a well deserved ovation.

Maestro James Brooks-Bruzzese preceded the Coppelia excerpt with the waltz from Act I of that classic ballet, keeping the musical pulse flowing, the phrasing elegant. The program opened with the Overture to Offenbach's opera comique La Vie Parisienne. Long before the term 'crossover' was a musical designation, Offenbach fused the mastery and craft of classicism with the bawdy populist elements of the French music hall. The sounds of the can-can and the Folies Bergère infuse this curtain raiser. Brooks-Bruzzese captured the music's French verve and insouciance and the smooth, silky string articulation enveloped Offenbach's melodies.

Vernon Leidig's clever arrangement of 'Jupiter' from The Planets by Gustav Holst retained most of Holst's original scoring. Brooks-Bruzzese's vigorous performance gave equal weight to a spacious traversal of the hymn 'O God beyond all praising' which forms the movement's central section. Brooks-Bruzzese brought a plethora of vigor to the opening Molto allegro movement from Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor without ignoring the more passionate aura beneath Mozart's grace notes.

There was an effervescent lift and spirit in the performance of Over the Waves by Juventino Rosas that put the charm back into this thrice familiar waltz tune. The Introduction to Act II of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake radiated with intensity. Marco Key-Navarrete's finely stylish oboe solo and the rich corporate string tone perfectly encompassed the score's dark Russian pathos.  The concert concluded with the Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 by Enescu. Enescu was Romania's Renaissance man of music. A prolific composer, conductor, violinist and pedagogue, Enescu produced a large output of symphonic, choral, chamber and operatic works. His Romanian Rhapsody pulsates with folk infused spirit. David Pedraza's full toned, robust viola solo was a standout in an outstanding, high voltage performance marked by excellent playing from all of the orchestra's sections. Brooks-Bruzzese led this rousing score at fever pitch, capping an enchanting and festive evening of music and dance.

The Symphony of the Americas season concludes 7:45 p.m. April 10 at the Broward Center's Amaturo Theater with James Brooks-Bruzzese conducting Mendelssohn's Beautiful Melusine Overture, Mozart's Symphony No. 31 in D,   the second movement of Over by Conrad Tao and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor.   www.symphonyof theamericas.org

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