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Glover taps into the soul of classical scores

''Bach is God's favorite composer," Mark Morris, perhaps the most musical of all contemporary choreographers, once told me.

That comment, along with memories of Morris's own polyphonic dances, came to mind frequently Sunday night, as tap genius Savion Glover -- accompanied by nine classical string musicians -- cracked open the compositions of masters from Bach to Bartok, revealing previously unimagined nuances within the familiar scores. Whereas Morris gives literal shape to the notes, Glover releases the soul within the sound -- his magical feet skittering and slamming, vibrating and clanging, as if propelled by a higher power.

For nearly two hours straight -- with breaks only to change his sweat-drenched shirt and pants -- Glover careened from pianissimo to forte, leaving eye- and ear-opening revelations in his wake. Vivaldi's ''Summer," ''Autumn," and ''Winter" concertos were especially glorious. In them, Glover sprang to his toes, chugged across the stage, and rebounded from the miked floor with his knees nearly at his ears, exploding the smooth lines of the melody into a storm of infinitesimal droplets. He didn't just react to the music, he anticipated it, beating out the rhythms that gave the concertos their shape. In the Dvorak quartet, he was more lyrical, filling in innumerable accents -- at one point rat-tat-tatting a toe into the ground behind him as sublime counterpoint to a phrase.

A musical conversation ensued when flutist Patience Higgins, from Glover's band, the Otherz, came onstage for a Bach suite. Glover answered the call of the flute with a trill of his feet, becoming a percussionist to Higgins's wind section. In the Bartok folk dances, he fairly bobbed up and down to the buzz of the strings, more in parallel to the music than commenting on its intricacies. His mincing steps gave way to balletic beats in the air, or maybe he was just moving so fast it seemed as if he took flight. In a Shostakovich piece, his humor burst through his astonishing technique, as he shot to his toes, en pointe, and raised his arms to high fifth position. Classicism, he wryly implied, comes in many forms.

Only in a Mendelssohn octet and the Bach Brandenburg concerto was the match, at points, less than copacetic. In the latter, Glover's rapid drill work sometimes outpaced the music, appearing more suited to a jazz number than a baroque score.

The rest of the program was as much vintage Glover as classical Glover. With modesty and grace, Glover introduced the musicians and engaged in a brief improvisational riff with each. And at the close, with band mates Tommy James (piano), Andy McCloud (double bass) Higgins, and Brian Grice (percussion) also on board, he let loose with his jazzy ''The Stars and Stripes Forever (for Now)," a brilliant, melancholic deconstruction of the Sousa classic.

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