Pulse of the dance lies at heart of them all
Tepfer’s account of Bach’s theme had expressive warmth, but his first jazz variation jarred horribly
by Michael Church, Monday 15 February 2016
Mary Collins in Baroque Unwrapped Lee Glasgow
After ten years of life, Kings Place has finally found – and been found by – its natural audience, and the left-field originality of its Baroque Unwrapped series neatly explains why. First up last weekend was Dan Tepfer’s Goldberg Variations/Variations, in which each variation in Bach’s majestic keyboard collection was followed by a jazz variation. A risky idea, but since Tepfer is primarily a jazz pianist, it seemed it might work – many musicians have jazzed up Bach, with total success. Tepfer’s account of Bach’s theme had expressive warmth, but his first jazz variation jarred horribly; the rest of the work became a desperate tug-of-war between bursts of jazz which didn’t seem to know what their purpose was, and returns to Bachian sanity.
On the other hand, ‘The French dancing masters’ was a brilliant concert-workshop in which four members of the Florilegium period-instrument ensemble teamed up with charismatic dance-specialist Mary Collins to tease out the relationship between the music and choreography of eighteenth-century Paris. The result – which culminated in a work-out for the audience – was fascinating, and will utterly transform the way those of us present will listen henceforth to instrumental Menuets, Sarabandes, and Gavottes. The pulse of the dance lies at the heart of them all.
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