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Baroque Music from Four Nations at the Freer

See my review of the Four Nations Ensemble at the Freer Gallery of Art:

Music from Four Nations at the Freer (The Washingtonian, September 20):

available at Amazon
Leclair, Violin Sonatas, First Book,
F. Biondi, R. Alessandrini
Once in a while, music finds its way to a near-ideal performer. This is exactly what happened last night with the pieces performed by soprano Rosa Lamoreaux, in a free concert with the Four Nations Ensemble at the Freer Gallery of Art. The local soprano sounded at her best, with a silvery tone of faultless intonation and slender accuracy, beautifully suited to the museum’s small Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Auditorium. The purity of the voice was featured most simply, and beautifully, in an unaccompanied performance of Dividido el Corazon, a solo chant-like song composed in the New Mexican missions in the 18th century that is an impassioned lament by the Virgin Mary over the death of her son.

The programming concept was to bring together music of European-trained composers in the 17th and 18th centuries, from four different parts of the world—Europe, Latin America, the American colonies, and China. Lamoreaux also gave a light-footed dancing quality to the South American villancico by Alonso Torices, Toca la flauta, a charming little piece accompanied somewhat rustically by cello, flute, and violin. Plus the director of the Freer’s concert series, Michael Wilpers, pressed into service to beat the tambourine (unfortunately not always in sync with the often complicated beat). The Arcadian cantata O Daliso, by Domenico Zipoli, an Italian composer transplanted late in life to Argentina as a Jesuit missionary, was enlivened especially by Lamoreaux’s impeccable theatrical sense. However, the first aria in the piece, Per pietade, seemed to be paced too quickly for the sighing motifs to sound much like sighs. Three songs of Philadelphia-based composer Benjamin Carr were likewise saved from insipid sentimentality by Lamoreaux’s wry but also sincere approach. [Continue reading]
Cecelia H. Porter, Going for baroque at the Freer (Washington Post, September 24)

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