Monday, April 02, 2012

ABS: Bach's Double Concertos

American Bach Soloists, 04.01.2012 Audience at Bach Double Concertos program performed by American Bach Soloists at St. Mark's Lutheran.Sunday evening I attended this program of Bach concertos for multiple soloists by the American Bach Soloists. Their performance was exacting & CD-ready. Tempos were consistently fast. Andrew Fouts & Katherine Kyme were soloists for the Double Violin Concerto in d Minor, accompanied by a minimal orchestra of 11. The tall Mr. Fouts makes his violin look like it's 2 sizes too small. His sound has a rapid swell & a skimming feeling. Ms. Kyme's playing was more grounded. It was interesting that each soloist articulated identical passages differently. I often complain about not being able to heard the harpsichord in concerts of Baroque music, but from my seat in the right balcony, the harpsichord sounded bold.

Oboist John Abberger & violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock were soloists for the Double Concerto in c Minor. Baroque wind instruments are one thing where Historically Informed Performance makes sense to me, as their sound is so distinct from the modern versions. I liked Mr. Abberger's even, connected playing. Ms. Blumenstock played in contrastingly short phrases.

When all 3 violin soloists were set up for the Triple Concerto in D Major, they mischievously started playing "Frère Jacques" as a round, with the orchestra joining in. This concerto is actually a "reverse-engineered" version of a Concerto for 3 Harpsichords in C Major. As for every piece in the program, the soloists played with music in front of them, which I felt undermined their virtuosity as well as their communication with each other. I was startled when Mr. Fouts added vibrato to a note he was sustaining in the Adagio. Ms. Blumenstock was vigorous in her 3rd movement cadenzas.

American Bach Soloists, 04.01.2012 Bach Double Concertos program performed by American Bach Soloists at St. Mark's Lutheran.After the intermission, the stage was set for what looked like a harpsichord duel, the 2 instruments set at right angles to one another & the orchestra at the soloists' backs. I liked seeing the violins & violas standing. Corey Jamason and Leon Schelhase were alert & well-coordinated soloists, & the instruments had a crackling sound.

While the stage was reset for the Brandenburg 3, conductor Jeffrey Thomas praised the soloists & joked that to avoid having an unlucky 13 people on stage, he was bowing out early. The orchestra remained standing, & Ms. Blumenstock cued the conductorless performance. The players listened to each other well & were engaged & spirited. It was as if everyone had stepped out into sunshine & open air. The audience responded with a standing ovation & cheers. I had no idea why the Opera Tattler was in attendance, seeing as the program did not include opera or even singers.

American Bach Soloists
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

John Abberger, oboe
Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Andrew Fouts, violin
Katherine Kyme, violin
Corey Jamason, harpsichord
Leon Schelhase, harpsichord

Concerto for 2 Violins in D Minor, BWV 1043
Concerto for Oboe & Violin in C Minor, BWV 1060
Concerto for 3 Violins in D Major, BWV 1064r
Concerto for 2 Harpsichords in C Major, BWV 1061
Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048

Sunday, April 1 2012
7:00 pm
St. Mark's Lutheran Church

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