The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: You don’t have to be a drinker to savor the musical cocktails that the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society will serve up this weekend to close its 21st summer season. | June 28, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

It’s closing time!

At least it is for the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society and for its many fans and friends who this weekend will see the summer chamber music ensemble bring the curtain down on its 21st season.

The playful Mixology theme will take the group to the restored Stoughton Opera House (below) – where it will be taped by Wisconsin Public Television on Friday night; The Playhouse in the Overture Center on Saturday night, and the Hillside Theatre at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin compound in Spring Green on Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening. (Tonight at 7:30 p.m., the BDDS will also perform in Thresher Hall at the Green Lake Music Festival in Rip0n.)

Most appealing of all is the repertoire. The two programs offer wonderful contrasts. The “Kir Royale” program (champagne with a touch of black currant liqueur) features “noble” and “aristocratic” works: a Baroque dance suite by Couperin; a chamber version of Haydn’s Classical-era Symphony No. 85 “La Reine” (The Queen, written for Marie-Antoinette, below); and Schubert’s sublime and other-worldly Cello Quintet, perhaps the greatest single piece of chamber music ever composed.

The second program features the “Old Fashioned,” that is – composers who were thought staid or backward looking in their day but are now seen as forward-looking and original. Those works include Igor Stravsinky’s 20th-century Neo-Classical dance suite “Suite Italienne”; Francois Couperin’s “The Apotheosis of Lully” written in 1725; and the titan of Romantic traditionalism by the successor of Bach and Beethoven, Brahms (below) as expressed through his masterpiece the Piano Quintet in F minor.

Add in the guest artists, including harpsichordist Layton James (below), Minnesota Orchestra cellist Anthony Ross and New York violinist Carmit Zori, and The Ear thinks unforgettable treats are waiting.

These are all wonderful works, sure to be given energetic performances and not to be missed.

Of course the whole BDDS season, done in six program and three venues over three weeks, have been that way.

Last weekend, for example, was the nearly sold-out “Manhattan” program, which served up delicious Big Apple concoctions by Leonard Bernstein (“Symphonic Dances from West Side Story” arranged for two pianos and percussion); Ned Rorem (his Flute Trio); Samuel Barber (his gorgeous neo-Romantic Cello Sonata, below); and Astor Piazzolla (three tangos), who learned much of about jazz from his time in Manhattan clubs before returning to his native Argentina.

The superlative guest artists included two percussionists (Lawrence University’s Dane Richeson and UW-Madison’s Tony Di Sanza, both unfortunately concealed from much of the Playhouse audience by the piano lids) plus a local cellist (UW’s Parry Karp) and a guest pianist (Randall Hodgkinson from the New England Conservatory of Music) joined BDDS’s co-founders and co-directors flutist Stephanie Jutt and pianist Jeffrey Sykes. And the hilarious Mystery Guests were two comical bartenders – one for torso and head, the other for hands – who concocted an actual Manhattan (below) to loud applause and riotous laughter.

I am not alone in my praise for it. Here is a link to Greg Hettmansberger’s review of the “Manhattan” program for Madison Magazine and his blog Classical Speaking;

http://www.madisonmagazine.com/Blogs/Classically-Speaking/June-2012/Bach-Dancing-and-Dynamite-Says-Well-Take-Manhattan/

I suppose I should wait until after the coming weekend before speculating about the next season. But you can’t help but wonder: What will be the theme for BDDS’ 22nd season – maybe duets and quartets, maybe animals (as in Noah’s Ark and two-by-twos).

Whatever it is, you have to believe it will be yet another remarkable summer season.

For more information about this weekend, including program notes, ticket prices and reservations, and player biographies, visit:

http://www.bachdancinganddynamite.org/schedule.html

In the meantime:

Bottoms up and cheers!

To your health, BDDS!

A Toast and a Thank You!

You make it an intoxicating summer, no matter what theme and music you choose.


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