I love music.

I write about the music I like and have purchased for the benefit of better understanding it and sharing my preferences with others.

Baroque by Candlelight

The Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia presented a concert on December 12, 2006 at the Second Presbyterian Church, Richmond. Performers included Amanda Balestrieri, James Wilson, Carsten Schmidt, Mary Boodell, and Theresa Salomon on original instruments. The program included DeFesch's Sonata in A minor for cello and harpsichord, a Pastorale ad libitum attributed to Antonio Vivaldi, and de Monteclair's Pan et Syrinx, a cantata for voice and instruments. I enjoyed Wilson's playing on cello. Many know him as a member of the Shanghai Quartet, that was centered at the University of Richmond. His playing style was spirited and confident, and his baroque style was pretty good. He was accompanied by my favorite musician of the evening, harpsichordist Schmidt, who played with such enthusiasm, emotion, and fervor. It is exciting to see someone really "get into" the music, and I think, ultimately have fun. Our singer was Ms. Balestrieri, who did an excellent job at French diction. At times her power out-did the instruments, but for the most part, she was an affective singer with above-average Baroque technique. Weaker performances came from the flute and violin. After the intermission, and a short re-tuning, the duo of Wilson and Schmidt returned with violinist Ms. Salomon to perform Biber's first Mystery Sonata. What a gem! A favorite! I felt the entire ensemble rushed the work, despite the fun I had listening to it. Drama and gravitas is lost when everything is just rushed through. I felt the group hadn't adequately studied the work. Salomon seemed more in her element on this work, but her violin had an especially wirey, thin tone that sometimes lost itself to squeaks. The next major work was La Lucrezia, an Italian cantata by Handel. This work was technically and musically richer than the earlier French work. It was also far too virtuosic for Ms. Balestrieri to perform confidently. At one point she became lost in a muddle of fast notes, and the look on her face told us "she was trying to relax and get the notes out," but the result would have afforded a scolding from a voice coach. Sorry--she did a great job, but it was lacking in the fastest parts. I've heard better Italian diction, too. But the continuo team of cello and harpsichord did an admirable job. Perhaps one of the most fitting works was the finale: Telemann's Concerto, his Paris Quartet in D in three movements. Here, our flute was more confident (and in better tune), and the continuo support was excellent. Only in a few sections did the violin player look taxed. In all, it was an admirable concert, especially so for an ensemble that doesn't normally perform together. The diversity of music was robust, and the highlights many.

Rariora et Marginalia

Geminiani: Concerti Grossi