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Skydiving from a Dream review – Scottish Ensemble add interest, if not coherence, to Bach 

Tramway, Glasgow
The string orchestra reunite with Andersson Dance to delve into the subconscious, via the music of Bach, Beethoven and Lutosławski

Having long been known for virtuoso, dynamic music making, in recent years the Scottish Ensemble has begun delving into the adventurous territory of cross-genre collaboration. Last year there was Tabula Rasa, a meditation on death and dying created with Vanishing Point theatre company. Before that, Goldberg Variations saw the ensemble working with Andersson Dance on the music of Bach.

It is Andersson Dance and the music of JS Bach to which the ensemble has returned for this latest project. Extracts from the Art of Fugue are juxtaposed with Lutosławski’s Preludes for solo strings and Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge in expanded version for string orchestra. Where Tabula Rasa was based in the concrete reality of the experience of dying, this latest project is decidedly more enigmatic. According to the note from the creators, the work “delves into the contradictions of the subconscious mind, from the absurd to the logical, from the irrational to the soothingly clear”.

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Layla and Majnun review – Yo-Yo Ma and Mark Morris's swirling tragedy 

Sadler’s Wells, London
The cellist and choreographer present an ancient Persian love story with striking designs by Howard Hodgkin

Layla and Majnun fall in love, but when Layla is married off to a different man, Majnun is left roaming the wilderness in despair. That’s the bones of an ancient Persian love story, retold down the centuries from Turkey to India, and again in this often beautiful collaboration between the multicultural musicians of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble and the Mark Morris Dance Group.

The logistics are tricky. It always seems like such a good idea to put musicians and dancers together on stage, all the better to enhance the innate connection between their art forms. The question is how to arrange all of those bodies. The score is based on a 1908 Azerbaijani opera, putting vocalists Alim Qasimov and his daughter Fargana at the centre. With the singers set forward and other musicians and staging blocks behind, there isn’t a huge amount of space for the dancers to weave around.

Related: Why I'm riffing on Layla: Yo-Yo Ma on rebooting the lovers who inspired Clapton

Layla and Majnun is at Sadler’s Wells, London, until 17 November.

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