Magazine article Gramophone

Kim Brandstrup

Magazine article Gramophone

Kim Brandstrup

Article excerpt


Bach Goldberg Variations

Murray Perahia pf

Sony [R] SK89243 (12/00)

My Goldberg project was back in 2009 but even now, when I listen to the piece, I find new things.

The Danish-born, London-residing choreographer on immersing himself in scores, finding the human scale in masterpieces and seeking out voice-loving composers

I grew up on Miles Davis. My parents listened to modern jazz, and they took me to jazz concerts. Everything changed when I studied film, which I'd always been interested in. I started to watch European arthouse movies when I was 15 and at that time they often used Baroque soundtracks. That was my way into classical music.

I remember encountering Pasolini's film The Gospel According to St Matthew--it used the Bach St Matthew Passion, and that slowly started to transform what I listened to at home. I found myself seeking out Bach -1 got through the St Matthew and St John Passions--and then I started going to the Danish Opera. Wagner hit me hard: I saw a production of The Flying Dutchman and then The Ring.

I listen to a lot of music, and there will always be pieces where I think, 'I'd love to choreograph this'. That's what happened with Jeux. I'd first used it 10 or so years ago at the Bregenz Festival when we did an opera based on Debussy's unfinished The Fall of the House of Usher. It had been reconstructed but it only lasted 45 minutes so we also used Jeux and Prelude a L'apres-midi d'unfaune. I'd always thought I'd love the chance to return to Jeux, so when Peter Martins at New York City Ballet asked me, I said, 'This is the time'.

I'm using 14 dancers. There's not a narrative as such but you have the play of young people in the park, the sexual deception ... It's written in the score that a ball bounces on to the stage at the beginning, so I've kept that in. The musicality of the dancers is phenomenal. It's a complicated piece--it has 60 different time signatures! It was clear to me that at the beginning of the process I needed to sit down with the conductor, Daniel Capps, and go through the score to decide on tempi and pauses, and to make sure we were on the same page. He also worked with the pianist, which always helps.

My preparation for choreographing a piece is absolutely learning the piece inside out. …

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