, October 2011
Scholz’s choreography fits the music to perfection and, exactly like it, is pure and subtle, with classic sobriety and harmonious proportions. He was a choreographer with an unusual natural musicality. Critics often compared his understanding of a musical score to that of a conductor rather than a choreographing artist. It is this quality that emerges throughout this ballet and makes it such an admirable and enjoyable piece.
The Leipzig Ballet delivers a beautiful and deeply felt performance. Michael Goldhahn, in particular, deserves to be especially mentioned, as he is also very effective as the reciter. The Great Mass is really a powerful, exquisite ensemble piece and the Leipzig Ballet brings it to life remarkably well. The dancers’ movements are understated and there is a purity of line reminiscent of George Balanchine… The whole piece effectively depicts the contrast between light and darkness, chaos and harmony, which populate every human life at some stage or other. There is great clarity in the emerging tableaux; there are no exaggerated steps or virtuoso solos; everything is subtle and deceptively simple. These attributes create a seamless flow and give an almost liquid quality to the movements, which perfectly mesh with the music. This is more obvious with Mozart’s music than with the other pieces but is present throughout. It is this characteristic that makes it a grand work of outstanding beauty.
The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, here under the baton of Balázs Kocsár, delivers all the music with typical technical brilliance…The Choir of the Leipzig Opera is equally fine and the four soloist singers give distinguished performances. Eunyee You’s rich, warm soprano tone offers a delicate contrast to Marie-Claude Chappuis’s lighter, crystalline soprano, creating moments of great beauty. I particularly enjoyed the latter’s delivery of the sublime Gloria: Laudamus Te, which is as beautiful as it is accomplished. Tenor Werner Güra and bass Friedemann Röhlig are exceptionally effective and complement the women’s voices admirably.
What I was most impressed with in this Scholz ballet was the way in which he understands the music. Mozart’s sections in particular are always subtle, deceptively simple and truly luminous. This luminosity is literally stressed by the lighting and the straightforward white costumes, both designed by Scholz himself. What he manages to achieve here is a ballet in perfect harmony with the music whereby movement seems to be a natural extension of the composer’s creation.
It is sad for the world of dance that a choreographer of Scholz’s stature died at only forty-six. He could have given us so many more magnificent works. There is however a positive side to this. We live in an age of technical achievement, which enables us to preserve the work of great artists, both in picture and sound. The innate quality of the blu-ray technique makes it an ideal recording format for this experience. I was captivated by the work, totally absorbed by the congenial combination of music and movement. Fortunately, a couple of Scholz’s creations were recorded for posterity and are also part of the repertoire of various ballet companies. I would recommend his ballets in general and The Great Mass in particular. This blu-ray disc does justice to the work and is definitely one that any ballet lover or Mozart fan should have.