Review: Svenska Dagbladet

The first review of Goldberg Variations - ternary patterns for insomnia has been published in the Swedish press.

Read the Swedish version on the Svenska Dagbladet website

A generous dance concert brings the human spirit to life - J S Bach’s famous Goldberg Variations gain a playful and lyrical interpretation in a generous-spirited dance concert. The encounter between Andersson Dance and the Scottish Ensemble creates a timeless freedom, writes Anna Ångström.

Andersson Dance and the Scottish Ensemble in ”Goldberg variations - ternary patterns for insomnia” out on tour. Photo: Hugh Carswell

Andersson Dance and the Scottish Ensemble in ”Goldberg variations - ternary patterns for insomnia” out on tour. Photo: Hugh Carswell

Yes, you can let yourself go with Bach; his music is like a dance. Rhythmic, with distinct phrases. And it’s as if an irresistible burst of energy is making its way through the group of five dancers and eleven musicians that take the stage, facing the audience, in the introduction to ”Goldberg variations - ternary patterns for insomnia”. Örjan Andersson Dance & the Scottish Ensemble create an open, listening space where playful meets introspective and where relaxation feeds into intense concentration, sometimes insanely self-obsessed, sometimes lyrical.

After last year’s fairly vague installation piece ”Residual bits of sunlight”, followed this spring by the experimental group work ”Piano, piano” to Schubert, choreographer Örjan Andersson is returning to a purer exploration of music. J S Bach is a masterly representative of the period in which music becomes the art of organising sounds in time, abstracting emotions. His well-structured constructions create a freedom within the form that attracts choreographers. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker is one of those who got us to listen to, and see, Bach with new eyes.

Andersson’s ensemble now enthusiastically leap into Bach’s world through the well-known ”Goldberg variations” – an aria and 30 variations that, the myth has it, were composed for a count with insomnia who was delighted with the result. On the stage the Scottish Ensemble become part of the dance; expert string players who, led by violinist Jonathan Morton, allow their bodies to become mobile extensions of their instruments. It is superb, tight. Sometimes the music itself is enough, then the dancers only need to sit still or comment on it physically or verbally in postmodern style. After all, Bach is timeless. And yet they are drawn into the circulatory system of the music: the group that moves courteously or in patterns, the couple who move their hips in closely synchronised twirls or Danielle de Vries who dances an extrovert and introvert solo.

The musicians too comment on the variations, beating out rhythms on their bodies or gliding away. They are also interpreting Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s 1980s arrangement for strings, inspired by pianist Glenn Gould’s intense approach to playing Bach. You can almost see the way the vibrations from the strings of the piano are transferred via the stringed instruments to the physical bodies.

Sometimes the meeting between music and dance becomes too much of a variety show, illustrative or long-winded, as when– in a kind of second act – different everyday objects reflect Bach’s mirror-image symmetries. But the ending is sublime. Alone with her double bass, Diane Clark picks out Variation 30, encapsulating the essentials of human relations, our ability to listen. ”Goldberg variations” is a generous dance concert that brings the human spirit to life.

Anna Ångström