When the young choreographer Liam Scarlett premiered his first main-stage work for the Royal Ballet last year, on a modern programme, it scored a triumphant success. Now, at its first revival in the company of historic ballets by Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan, his accomplishment is not one jot diminished. He took on a dazzling score in Poulenc’s Double Piano Concerto, a tour de force of shifting moods and idioms, and matched it with inventively shaped duets — a different couple for each of the three movements — interwoven with dances for a corps of 14. There isn’t a single sequence that isn’t fascinating.
Last weekend, both of last year’s casts were seen on the same day, both excellent. But the evening sextet, on whom Scarlett created his ballet, seemed to me to carry a special “rightness”: Marianela Nuñez and Rupert Pennefather sensuously, beautifully paired in the first movement; Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera twinned at the speed of light in the last; and, in the middle, Tamara Rojo and Bennet Gartside, subtle in dance that tantalises with some emotional back story. Our appetite is certainly whetted for Scarlett’s next premiere in April.