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That's the late Bill Crofut, performing part of his wonderful alphabet song, "Alligator Hedgehog," from this new CD that he finished just before he died, called Dance on a Moonbeam. It's a stunning, rich collection of poetry and folksongs, operatic arias and nonsense verse, all woven together as intricately and neatly as a Nantucket basket's wicker splines. There are elegant readings from Shakespeare by Meryl Streep, and vibrant settings of Randall Jarrell's and e e cummings' poems sung by Dawn Upshaw; Frederica von Stade contributes a moving version of the Shaker hymn, "Simple Gifts"; and the Chourus Angelicus transports you with the lullabye, "Now I lay Me Down to Sleep," from Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel.
But it is Bill Crofut's presence that fills the CD throughout, his steady baritone harmonzing with Julianne Baird in a lovely version of the traditional Welsh song, "All Through the Night," and his delicate pick work turning the banjo into an instrument of grace in the duet of a Bach Bourré that he does with lutist Carver Blanchard. This is poetry as most of us wish it had been presented to us as children -- full of magic and music and mystery, offered in a faraway diction and calling us to sweet delight. And this is what we'd dream an evening, a day, a season, a year, a lifetime to be: peaceful and joyful and profoundly loving.
Here's Meryl Streep with Shakespeare and Bill Crofut with the title song:
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Copyright 2004 © John Cech
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