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February 07, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-07

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More of
If Vladimir Spivakov could draw
from his Moscow Virtuosi playing of
the same outsize personality and tonal
Moscow Virtuosi
Rackham Auditorium
February 3, 1993
heft as his own, the result would be
formidable indeed. He is a violinist
very much of the Russian School,
projecting an ample flow of richly
expressive tone with a confident sense
of absolute technical security.
These virtues enabled him to sus-
tain tempi that were in principle too
relaxed in his performance of Haydn's
"First Violin Concerto" last Thurs-
*day in Rackham Auditorium.
When every phrase, every note, is
so alive, no one is likely to complain
if the piece lasts a little longer than
usual. The finale, in particular, though
not unduly quick, was brought off
with plenty of sparkle and dash -
qualities that were not apparent ev-
erywhere in the evening's program.
The opening work, for example,
*Haydn's C Major Cello Concerto,
made a less positive impression; in
this case it was the finale that most
conspicuously lacked such sparkle and
Wendy Warner's rendition of the
solo line, in contrast to Spivakov's in
the Violin Concerto, proved some-
what accident prone in the beginning,
and never warmed up sufficiently to
compensate for a certain degree of
pallor in the orchestral contribution.
Though the Moscow Virtuosi con-

sistently provided a warm and culti-
vated tone quality, with none of the
rawness or aggressiveness one used
to associate with Russian orchestras,
it came at the cost of much of the bite
and sheer visceral excitement that used
to come into the bargain. The result
was a sonority too tame for Haydn,
whose music is not so genteel as these
performances sometimes made it
The problem was aggravated in
both concerti by a lack of dynamic
variation. The performers tended to
sustain a more or less continuous
mezzo forte that seemed to take little
account of important events in the
This is an all too common fault of
present-day music making, and, it
must be said, one from which
Spivakov's own playing was not en-
tirely free. Given the generally unpar-
alleled level of technical proficiency
these days, the tendency is a mystery
that remains to be explained.
This weakness was less in evi-
dence in the most substantial work on
the program, Shostakovich's Cham-
ber Symphony in F Major Op. 73bis
- fortunately so, since the opportu-
nity to exploit a wider dynamic range
is one of the chief excuses for per-
forming such an orchestral arrange-
ment of a string quartet.
It has been said with some truth
that a section of several string players
can play more quietly than a single
player-which is to say, it can create
a stronger impression of quietude. At
several points in the Shostakovich
this capacity was exploited to great
effect. The mysterious spiccato pas-
sages in the second movement and

the eerie near stillness at the conclu-
sion of the finale were as riveting as
any climactic fortissimo. The audi-
ence even cooperated by holding its
collective breath and suspending the
usual rustle of cough drop wrappers
and programs, which made for some
rare and beautiful moments.
Contrary to this reviewer's as-
sumption stated in last week's pre-
view, the arrangement of the
Shostakovich turned out to be not
Rudolph Barshai's, which includes
parts for wind instruments, but an-
other one, according to the program
"inspired by" Barshai's arrangements,
made by a certain Vladimir Milman,
which excludes winds but, oddly
enough, throws in a harpsichord.
The presence of the harpsichord
might have made sense in the
neoclassically flavored opening
movement, but although the harpsi-
chordist could be seen toiling away
and turning the pages throughout that
movement, the result was quite inau-
In fact, the instrument only made
itself heard where it least seemed to
belong, in the fourth movement
passacaglia, with its tragic echoes of
parallel movements in Shostakovich's
Eighth Symphony and his First Vio-
lin Concerto, among other works.
For that matter, generally speak-
ing, the harpsichord seemed like an
unnecessary intrusion, not only in the
Shostakovich, but in the Haydn
concerti as well. Given that it could
almost never be heard, and that it
played no role whatever in the direc-
tion, which was entirely in Spivakov's
hands, it might just as well have been
left out entirely.

Jeff Daniels apparently thinks we can
Murphy's Law: anything that can;
wrong and at the worst possible time. W
results, "Two Sisters," is the epitome
"Two Sisters," by T.E. Williams, pl
Rose Theatre through March 20, is an e
Two Sisters
The Purple Rose Theatre
February 4, 1994
dabbling into a range of comedic form
is going wrong and nothing is workin
anything, and in "Two Sisters" they d
Simply, it is the story of two sister
together to save their home. After fin
father has been cheated, they enlist the h
to save their home. Together, with the h1
they are able to take the bad guy dow
brand of mischievous payback.
Terry Heck and Pamela Cardell are
and Katya Prokopov (respectively), t
versus sensibility. Cardell's Katya has,
to her, and a tendency to be over en
Sasha is a perfect counterpoint, with
sensible seriousness.
Michael S. Ouimet's Boris is engag
of sarcastic civility and oily charm -

"Fuck off" if we don't like "Sisters." Don't worry Jeff, it's actually pretty good.
stirs up laughs
women love to hate; he thinks he perfect, but is far from
go wrong, will go it. With a barely-hidden streak of cruelty, Ouimet's Boris
Vith often hilarious tries to be suave; he is by no means evil, he just tends to
of Murphy's Law. offend everyone.
laying at the Purple By comparison, Roy K. Dennison as Fyodor Prokopov
xercise in laughter, is perfect in the role of a bumbling father, who sense of
reality is a little skewed, and without knowing it, his
daughters always seem to tell him what to do.
What would a play be without a little romance - in
this case provided by Troy D. Sill as Ivan, a young man
who is enamored with Katya, but not sure how to let Katya
know. Sill's Ivan is excellent, with a good sense of comic
s. When everything appeal. His impersonation of a policeman is hilarious.
ng right, you'll try The set, designed by Bartley Bauer, is the perfect
o. showcase for the ensuing action, with all the appeal of a
s who are working well-lived-in home, including a front door that has a
ding out that their personality of its own.
help of their friends While understated in typical Russian style, the com-
ielp of their friends, edy and ensuing action are enough to keep you laughing
n, using their own through the entire play. The understatement at times
detracted from the humor.
charming as Sasha The most hilarious scene is the end of the first act at the
he model of sense party, in which all the elements of comedy combine to
a lovely sweetness create confusion and humor.

'Farm' showcases young talent

They may be young, but these
actors put on an energetic and
unchildish production.
The enthusiasm and energy of

Animal Farm
Performance Network
February 5, 1994

childhood is put to good use in the
Young Actors Guild's production of
"Animal Farm," playing at the Per-
formance Network through February
Peter Hall's adaptation of George
Orwell's novel is lyrical in format,
moving through the acts with dignity,
maintaining the intricacy of the po-
litical satire, while adding the inno-
cence of childhood.
The difficult concepts within the
play are dealt with engagingly by the
cast of young actors. Their perfor-
mances are all the more admirable
since Orwell had difficulty publish-
ing the novel because of its political
For some of the actors the diffi-
culty of the play was increased by
dual roles and changing casts, which
made the entire play very much an
ensemble piece. Although the cos-

tumes and set are representational,
the creativity and ingenuity of the
actors are fully used in their portrayal
of the animals on the farm.
In simple terms, the play, as nar-
rated by a youngachild, revolves
around the lives of animals on a farm
that revolt against their owner. With
the leadership of the pigs, the animals
work together to manage the farm.
However, the pigs change and by the
end they have become just like the
previous owner and nothing has
changed for the animals.
The most engaging part of the
The most engaging
part of the
performance was
watching the actors
portrayed the animals.
performance was watching the actors
portrayed the animals. With a prance,
a snort, a waddle or a butt, the animals
came to life - most especially Ben-
jamin (played by Emily Wilson-
Tobin) with a pragmatism, compla-
cency and view of things that come
with old age. The dogs manage to be
both adorable and menacing at the

same time.
The use of movement and music
enhance the drama of the play, while
the lyrical format of the dialogue and
speech gives the play its momentum
and flow.
The play is anything but a
children's play with a subtlety and
intricacy that can baffle even adults.
The young actors involved in the pro-
duction are disciplined and deter-
Go with an open mind, this pro-
duction will lend a different interpre-
tation in to Orwell's novel that you
won't get reading it in a classroom or
at home.
ANIMAL FARM is playing at the
Performance Network (408 W.
Washington), through February 13.
Performances are Thursday
through Saturday at 8p.m. with
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3
p.m. Tickets are $4-$6. For more
information call 663-0681.

ithusiastic. Heck's
level-headed and
ging as an example
- the type of guy

Dunham and his dummies delight
By MARNI RAITT There's no question that, mechani- all going to choke to death!"
To many people, a ventriloquist is cally, Dunham is a talented ventrilo- But what made Dunham's show
an old man trying not to move his lips quist. He proved himself so on nu- so much fun was his quick-witted
merous occasions, such as carrying humor coupled with complex charac-
RMANCE on a fast-paced five-way conversa- ters everyone can relate to. In fact, his
tion with four of his characters, or dummies were so realistic that it was
Jeff Dunham taking a sip of water as one of the often east to forget they were just
Michigan Theater dummies continues to scream, de-
February 5, 1994 spitetheprotestofanotherthat"we're See DUNHAM, Page 8
as he makes a wooden doll speak. To
the crowd at the Michigan Theater THE MOST INTENSIVE COURSE FOR THE
Saturday night, however, Jeff Dunham
gave a new twist to the vaudevillian
performing style. ,

TWO SISTERS plays at the Purple Rose Theatre (137
Park St, Chelsea) through March 20. Performances are
Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7
p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 -
$20. For more information call 475-7902.

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Applications are available January 28
at the Campus Information Center in
the Union and at the North Campus
Information Center in the North
Campus Commons.
Applications due February 11 at 5pm.
Return to Jennifer Pope,
Room 1310 Michigan Union.

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