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Bach Dancing Is Dynamite

July 3, 2010

The most historic of locations is not always the most comfortable for a concert, but it helps when the talent is music to the ears.

It is a little late in the game now, but make a note for next year: Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, the revolving chamber music ensemble with attitude as well as aptitude, is easily among the best local classical performing groups around. In fact, their June shoulder-season concerts bridging indoor and outdoor classical performance schedules should be expanded to year-around opportunities so more may hear BDDS’ unique and engaging approach to classical music.

We sat in on the ensemble’s next-to-last performance in the tiny auditorium at Hillside Home School on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin campus. It was hot outside, which meant it was hot inside as well. It had been a stormy, wet weekend and the performers joked about falling tree limbs (right outside the door, in fact) wet and sticking piano keys, and cellos that wouldn’t tune quite right. It seemed like a sort of musical hell, but with humidity.

This year’s theme was “Novel Obsessions” and our “novel” was Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which meant French as well as English composers. There were selections by Claude Debussy and Frederic Chopin (who I always assumed was Polish), Frank Bridge, Arnold Bax and Moritz Moszowski (which sounds neither French nor English.) There also was the usual intermission folderol, prize drawings and the opening portion of Dickens novel dramatically read by an actor whose name I did not catch. (Sorry.)

Debussy’s “Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun” had been arranged for flute and harp, giving flautist and BDDS principal Stephanie Jutt and harpist Heidi Krutzen a chance to open the afternoon on a high note (so to speak.) The composition’s dreamy qualities were brought to the forefront in a performance beautifully and delicately played. Pianist and BDDS’ other principal Jeffrey Sykes and cellist Parry Karp next took the stage with Chopin’s “Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 65.” Karp had some tuning issues, but that didn’t affect his fine performance. The pair delivered the four-movement concerto with an elegance that has become BDDS hallmark.

Then it was half-time…er, intermission.

BDDS returned as a quartet, with Karp and Sykes being joined by violinist Suzanne Beia and violist Yura Lee for the “Phantasy for Piano Quartet in F-Sharp” by English composer Bridge. The unfamiliar work by the largely unknown composer was a delightful romantic treasure that really deserves wider play. The four played their roles seamlessly to the delight of the audience.

Timing was such that we had to leave before Bax’s “Elegiac Trio for Flute, Viola, and Harp” and Moszowski’s “Suite in G minor for Two Violins and Piano, Op. 71,” which added violinist Carmit Zori to the mix. Friends who remained behind described the Bax as “a dreamy fantasy” and the Moszowski as “a luscious dessert (Sykes’ words) that looked heavy but turned into a light, delicious airiness .”

In addition to making us hungry, it made us sorry we missed it. And sorrier still that we have to wait an entire year for a second helping.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 22, 2010 7:45 am

    Great idea, thanks for this post!

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