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BDDS: 4th concert, *Stranger in a Strange Land*

The final concert of the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society 2021 season was called *Stranger in a Strange Land.* I watched it on July 5, 2021 (it was dropped online on July 3rd). As usual, the concert was introduced by co-artistic directors Stephanie Jutt and Jeffrey Sykes. These two have such a wonderful partnership, it’s a joy to see them smile at eac other.

They opened the program with a special arrangement of the overture to *Candide* by Leonard Bernstein, an arrangement for flute, cello, and piano, played by Stephanie, Jeffrey, and cellist Trace Johnson. Stephanie also had a few little licks on piccolo. It worked surprisingly well with these three instruments and they played it with verve. It’s such a delightful piece of music, I think it would work in an arrangement for coffee can, rolled-up Harper’s magazine, and waxed paper and comb. Please don’t try this at home.

Jeffrey and Timothy Jones performed a song cycle by Robert Owens, *Borderline,* settings of Langston Hughes poems. Jeffrey and Jones talked about the depth and context of the songs and how gratifying it is to perform American songs, especially African-American songs, having spent so much time performing European songs.

The songs were wonderfully crafted, a lovely sense of unity between the poems and the music. Jeffrey’s playing is always full of clarity and expression, and Jones did a beautiful job of articulating not just the text but the poetry. It’s a cycle of 16 songs - - an unusually large number, but some of the songs are quite short and the cycle is well-paced and full of variety.

The next piece was Rebecca Clarke’s piano trio, written by Clarke during WWI. It was played by Jeffrey, Axel Strauss (violin), and Jean-Michel Fonteneau (cello). What a tasty piece! Full of the harmonic opulence you hear in a lot of music of the period. Everyone seemed to be listening to Debussy, always a good choice! The three players brought out all of the drama and aching late Romanticism in the music.

The same trio finished the concert with “Le grand tango” by BDDS favorite Astor Piazzolla, played with skill and flavor, a perfect way to end the season.

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