I heard the second concert in the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society season on June 21, 2021 (it was dropped online two days before). It was called *Great Expectations.*
The first piece was by Joseph Bologne, also known as the Chevalier de St. Georges. Stephanie gave a delightful bio of the guy, who sounds like he led quite the extraordinary life. He was the son of an enslaved woman and a wealthy French plantation owner. His father brought him to France, gave him a world-class education, and he became a great violinist, composer, and conductor. Stephanie and Jeff played his sonata for harp and flute, adapted for piano and flute. Jeff played it on an electronic keyboard that was on some kind of harpsichordish setting. It was a charming, elegant piece. A perfect way to warm up the ear.
Next up, three songs by Margaret Bonds on poems by Langston Hughes. The cycle is called *Dream Portraits.* Jeff and baritone Timothy Jones had a conversation about the songs and the unusual title. I knew nothing about Bonds and was impressed that she was a teacher of Ned Rorem! The music was distinctive with a strong point of view. Jeff and Jones performed them beautifully, Jones’s voice really sounded gorgeous in these songs.
Jeff and violinist Axel Strauss played “Peace” by Jessie Montgomery, a new piece, written during the pandemic. Lovely music, interesting textures, some tasty harmonies, and a definite mood. This piece deserves to be played a lot. Here's another recent performance of the piece:
Jeff, Strauss, and cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau played an early Beethoven trio, from the first set of pieces that he published, his opus 1. Interesting how, to me, early Beethoven doesn’t really sound like what I think of as Beethoven. It’s lavender as opposed to deep, rich purple. Nothing wrote with lavender. You can hear that it’s music by someone who’s just getting started, who already shows great skill and promise. The surprise is just how revolutionary he became. Of course the performance was exceptional. Jeff, in particular, has the right touch for this music.