Friday, July 13, 2012

ABS Festival: Music by Johann Sebastian Bach

ABS Festival, 07.12.2012 Intermission at ABS Festival concert at the SF Conservatory of Music.Thursday night I attended the 1st concert of the American Bach Soloists Festival, a summer event comprising master classes, lectures & performances, taking place at the SF Conservatory of Music. The all-Bach program began with violinist Robert Mealy in the Sonata in A Major for Violin & Harpsichord. His tempos were moderate, & he bobbed up & down gently as he played. He added a chordal flourish at the end of the piece. His Baroque violin makes a billlowy sound compared to the modern version. Baritone William Sharp was soloist for the solo cantata Ich habe genug. An ensemble of 7, one player per part, accompanied him. His voice is clean & even throughout its range & is easy to listen to. His interpretation was tasteful, & he added light dramatic accents. Debra Nagy played an immaculate oboe obbligato, & Mr. Sharp did the we-are-not-worthy bow to her during the ovations.

Elisabeth Reed played the Sonata in D Major for Viola da gamba after intermission. The 6-stringed instrument must be very difficult to play, & she looked flustered at least once. The sound is very quiet, & the bow seems to scud over the strings instead of grabbing them. Ms. Reed & harpsichordist Corey Jamason created a contemplative mood for the slow 3rd movement. The program ended with 7 musicians playing a lively Brandenburg Concerto No. 6. I enjoyed Elizabeth Blumenstock's animated viola playing, especially in the last movement, in which she humorously dialogued with violist Tekla Cunningham. ABS audiences are extremely quiet & attentive. They applauded enthusiastically, for the cantata & the Brandenburg in particular.

§ American Bach Soloists Festival & Academy
Chamber Series
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach

Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin & viola
Tekla Cunningham, viola
Corey Jamason, harpsichord & organ
Steven Lehning, violone & viola da gamba
Robert Mealy, violin
Debra Nagy, oboe
Elisabeth Reed, viola da gamba
William Sharp, baritone
Tanya Tomkins, violoncello

Sonata in A Major for Violin & Harpsichord, BWV 1015
Ich habe genug, BWV 82
Sonata in D Major for Viola da gamba & Harpsichord, BWV 1028
Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat Major, BWV 1051

Thursday July 12 2012
San Francisco Conservatory of Music

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