Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society artistic directors Jeffrey Sykes and Stephanie Jutt
Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society presented "Follow Suit" from its "Deuces Are Wild" series on Friday Night at Overture Center's Playhouse. This diverse program began with lighthearted commentary about the group's mission. Then colorfully dressed performers commanded the stage, displaying an impressive array of rich, jewel-toned pieces.
New Moon and Morning for flute and string quartet, by up-and-coming New York composer Kenji Bunch, was a challenging way to begin the concert, but this ensemble played brilliantly. The opening theme, rich in sustained notes, echoed Mozart's famous String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, with held harmonies building tension until the entire first section released into an energetic denouement enhanced by flutist Stephanie Jutt's masterful solos held together by cellist Anthony Ross' steady pizzicato. Like many modern compositions, New Moon and Morning's disparate and complex rhythms demand an immense level of concentration. This group showed off its expertise by tightly holding together a piece that could easily unravel with one missed beat.
Viola solos are rare in classical music. Rarer still are such solos performed with technical panache and grace. In Mozart's Trio in E-flat Major, K. 498 ("Kegelstatt") for clarinet, viola and piano, Yura Lee's lovely and nuanced playing melded beautifully with Jeffrey Sykes light, dancing touch on the piano and Burt Hara's smooth breath control. Even more impressive was the group's ability to achieve such seamless phrasing from instruments of opposing volume, timbre and temperament. Exquisite nuance, tender emotion and graceful expressiveness made this performance meaningful and moving, a true lost-in-the-moment experience.
Last on the program was a passionate rendering of Brahms' Quintet in B minor, Op. 115, for clarinet and string quartet. The players' love for this piece was obvious. The first and second violins begin with interwoven parts that are symmetrical yet played almost as one. There was excellent communication among group members, and the variance of dynamics and shading was commendable.
It is clear that these players adore their work. Each was thoroughly engrossed in the act of making music. The swaying, lush vibrato was a real treat to hear, and the group knows how to restrain itself as well, allowing the soloist to shine.
This program will be repeated in Spring Green this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Taliesin's Hillside Theater in Spring Green. Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society will also present a "Lost in the Shuffle" program this weekend at Overture Center's Playhouse (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.) and Taliesin's Hillside Theater (Sunday, 6:30 p.m.). It includes works by Emmanuel, Mendelssohn and Messiaen.