TOP OF THE LINE OR END OF THE LINE? NYTimes architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff writes that Dallas’ Arts District may mark a new beginning around these parts but it’s actually the last such major downtown renovation project currently in the American pipeline. (Well, there’s Miami’s, but Ouroussoff counts that one as “finished” because the money’s already been raised.) What does this last surge of urban culture palaces tell us? Basically, many American cities aren’t able to patch up the serious, pedestrian-hostile wrecks they’ve let freeways and developers make of their downtowns. Some pretty buildings haven’t resolved our race-and-class-and-commercial-vs.-private splits.
What the [Dallas] planners could not easily overcome, however, was the scale of destruction [of downtown neighborhoods], and the resistance many felt toward breaking down old barriers. Nearly 30 years after the [Arts District] plan was unveiled, most of the commercial lots remain empty. And the divisions that continue to separate this enclave of high culture from the nearby communities remain deep.
THE DSO GOT ATTENTION, TOO: Scott Cantrell disliked Thursday’s DSO performance, particularly the too-hasty piano playing of soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet (“Beginning with hard, metallic bangs and notes that didn’t coalesce into lines, Thibaudet never made a coherent whole of the Saint-Saëns’ first movement”). But Anthony Tommasini in the NYTimes was notably impressed (“it was enjoyable to hear the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet play this dazzling piece with such daring”).
To each his own? No accounting for taste? Actually, what was revealing about the reviews was how much they agreed, how the critics heard the exact same things (speedy tempos, hypercharged playing, evocations of Debussy, rapport with van Zweden). But what Tommasini found bold and out-of-the-ordinary (“He seemed intent on countering any impression that he is a refined French virtuoso”), Cantrell found merely “frantic.”
DANCING FOR A HOME: One of the biggest names that the AT&T PAC brought in for the Winspear’s opening gala two weeks ago was choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, who premiered a fun new work for us with his dance troupe, Morphoses. Now the NYTimes catches up with Wheeldon as he opens his third season at New York’s City Center. The question: Can Wheeldon’s young troupe beat the miserable economy and New York’s hideous rents? No, it doesn’t really matter that he’s “the best thing to happen to ballet in 50 years.”