Music by four composers active during the 1760s and 1770s -- a time of fertile experimentation separating the fully formed masterpieces of the High Baroque and those of the Classical eras -- was the bill of fare for Pro Musica Rara's performance yesterday at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
For this opening concert of its 16th season, Pro Musica's forces were augmented by the early music violin performance expert Stanley Ritchie. Mr. Ritchie led the ensemble in symphonies by William Boyce (number III in C major) and Johann Christian Bach (Opus 6/III, in E-flat major), and also performed Mozart's Violin Concerto in D major, K. 278.
As in the case of any art in transition, the range of musical styles was quite diverse. The Boyce, from a set of six symphonies published in 1760, owes a debt to the music of George Frideric Handel, particularly in its lean textures and harmonic style. The J. C. Bach symphony, by contrast, exploits the dramatic effect of opposing tonal areas, and is one of the classical style's earliest, most exultant utterances.