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Review: APA's 'Ballads, Beats & Big Pianos'


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Elizabeth Joy Roe. - PHOTO BY BOB BADER
  • Photo by Bob Bader
  • Elizabeth Joy Roe.

4.5 stars
American Pianists Association, Talbott Street Nightclub, October 2.

APA partnered pianists Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe with a guest appearance by Dance Kaleidoscope for an inspired and inspiring premiere performance in a night club. Talbott Street provided an intimate setting as part of APA's "Grand Encounters" series. Anderson and Roe have been described as the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of the piano, performing a sort of ballet at the keyboard. Their extraordinarily visual and visceral playing expands the concept of "sit and listen to a standard" repertoire.

Anderson and Roe not only have engaging personalities, they engage the audience with sprightly introductions and new arrangements of old works "re-imagined" to be in-the-moment creative collaborations between composer and performer. They practically chewed up the Steinway grands, opening with Schubert's ballad Der Erlkonig describing a child's delirium on a dark, stormy night, then did a total turnaround with Bach's softly melodic "Ebarme Dich" from The Saint Matthew Passion. Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring Part I" bristled with conflict between the elders and the sacrificial virgin. Mystery imbued Villa-Lobos' "Lo, at Midnight" from Bachiana Brasileiras No. 5; Piazzolla's "Libertango" sizzled to close Act I.

Act II opened with Liberty Harris' floatingly sensuous embodiment of St. Saens' "The Swan," followed by DK dancers letting loose to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Both performances radiated delight with live piano accompaniment. Anderson and Roe closed the program with The Bee Gees' witty "Stayin' Alive," Radiohead's dramatic "Paranoid Android" and a masterful 12-minute encapsulation of the heart and soul of Bizet's "Carmen as Fantasy for Two Pianos."


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