Early instruments show their spirit in Telemann work

January 27, 1992|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Music Critic

How invaluable an organization Pro Musica Rara is was demonstrated yesterday at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the last work on the program. The piece was Georg Philipp Telemann's Quartet in D Minor for two flutes, bassoon and harpsichord-and-cello continuo. This was one of those occasions when the argument for original instruments in early music never seemed stronger. The woody tones of these instruments at their lower pitch made the music sound unusually inviting and accessible. This listener is willing to bet the excellent musicians -- flutists Nancy Andrews and Sara Landgren, bassoonist Phillip Kolker, cellist Allen Whear and Amy Rosser -- spent much rehearsal time together. The way they listened to each other and threw phrases back and forth in this sunny and delightful work was as pleasurable to the ear as a great basketball team is to the eye.

Telemann also made a strong case for his music in a Sonata in D for cello that was played by Whear and harpsichordist Rosser. This composer was, of course, no J. S. Bach and this piece doesn't compare to Bach's famous solo cello suites. But in its soulful slow movement and its virtuosic final one, this piece seemed at least equal (and perhaps superior) to the Bach sonatas for the same combination that pay far more frequent visits to our concert halls.

Bach was represented on the program by his English Suite in F for Harpsichord, in which Rosser made a listener want to join in the exuberant dance of the final jig. Karl Heinrich Graun was represented by his Trio in D for Violin, Horn and Continuo. This was an inferior work that received a reading in which the valiant performers were bedeviled by their recalcitrant instruments. Hornist Mary Bisson, in particular, deserves a purple heart for what her valveless, thanklessly difficult-to-play instrument put her through.

One sad note to this fine concert: After intermission PMR music director Shirley Mathews announced the group must raise $5,000 by spring in order to have a season next year.

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