Caines doesn't make small dancing. In The Farewell to Music, the fullness, even extravagance, that he asks of his performers marries eloquently with the two suites of Mozart songs that he has assembled, the first group in Italian, the second in German. I don't simply mean the occasional gesture of hand to brow or the many times people swoon or collapse at the end of a song, but the lavish scale of the movement. Even the most balletic steps look urgent, fluid, rarely posed. Hsu is especially notable for the way her body breathes and sings.
The songs we hearbeautifully delivered by mezzo-sopranos Silvie Jensen and Alison Taylor Cheeseman, tenor David Root, and baritone Christopher Herbert, with Ilic at the pianohymn the beauty of a beloved, lament her absence, and chide her infidelity, although there's a rowdy drinking song that incites a lot of foolishness in the choreography and another in praise of food and drink that makes the dancers go slack-bodied. Caines creates some lovely images and patterns. A man playing a pretty game with two women gives each alternately a gentle backward push as he bounds forward. Lines are a recurring motif: The performers group as if for a contra dance, link arms in a chain, weave around one another. Brown and Engleman come together in a tender duet while Root sings to a dreamed-of beauty. When Caines enters despondently, his friends, one by one, break into his solitude to comfort him with dancing, until the beautiful, grave Vargo joins him for Mozart's gentle "To Joy." It's Vargo who embodies the last plaintive words Jensen utters; alone and beseeching, she indeed seems to be saying farewell to all the glories of music and love.