Prelude - skydiving from a dream

Tramway, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

five stars

It’s almost exactly three years since the Scottish Ensemble interacted with Swedish company Andersson Dance in a Tramway One staging of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. This proved a vividly radical exploration of Bach’s music: dancers and musicians alike moved through a cunningly choreographed journey in which sound took on another, visually striking physicality and we, the audience, heard Bach with our eyes, as well as our ears. So - could they? would they? join forces again? Prelude - skydiving from a dream is your answer: a mosaic of music that dips back and forth from disruptive, near-chaotic energies (the Lutosławski Preludes for 13 Solo Strings) to the sense of cosmic order that inhabits the mathematical architecture of Bach’s Art of Fuge - using extracts from both works, while playing in its entirety, that glorious surge of paradoxes, Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge.

Even if the musicians had been rooted to a designated spot, leaving the three dancers to channel the quirks of mood and tempi through their movements, this would still have been an exhilarating event. However, creating a sonic vortex where strident-screeching discords suddenly morph into measured harmony isn’t enough for the twelve members of the Scottish Ensemble: they come out from behind the usual barrier of music stands and join in the dance, often in complex phases of double work with each other or with one of the professional dancers. The choreography, by Orjann Andersson, enjoys a spirit of creative freefall, where certain motifs - arms outstretched, palms facing outwards, like wings yet somehow questioning, is one recurring theme - catch at the ‘thermals’ within the music without being enslaved by them. There are nervy jitterings (Lutoslawski), close-bonding duets (Bach) and an intense degree of unity between bodies and music for the final Beethoven where the Ensemble players offer musicianship of consummate understanding and challenging dance with real finesse. No wonder Andersson Dance is happy to share such adventurous projects with them!