Trinity Episcopal Church
The second of three 2006-’07 concert appearances by the Ensemble Voltaire yielded “Bohemian Rhapsody” as its program title. This was an adventuresome concert from the Bohemian Baroque backwaters, some selections surprisingly interesting. Oboist John Abberger, violinist Christopher Verrette, violinist and violist Allison Edberg, viola da gambist Elizabeth Macdonald and harpsichordist Thomas Gerber were the principals; last Friday they were joined by bassoonist Anna Marsh.
Following a short opener by Biagio Marini (1587-1663) — a household name only in the Marini household — came a much more auspicious work: the Sonata No. 7 for violin and continuo by Heinrich von Biber (1644-1704), with Verrette playing the principal lines and Macdonald and Gerber supplying the continuo parts. Using a minimum of vibrato, Verrette easily managed all the florid lines, the decorative turns, the trills and the other bits of display, though the work became a bit longish before ending.
Abberger then made his entrance, joining the continuo players in the Sonata for oboe and basso continuo by the one and only Johann David Heinchen (1683-1729). Born just two years before Bach, Heinchen’s music reflects a late Baroque style. Abberger and his partners forthrightly shared the work’s contrapuntal riches.
Then we had the Sinfonia in D Minor for two violins, da gamba and harpsichord by none other than Frantisek Ignác Antonin Tuma (1704-1774), a composer living into the Classical period; however, this piece is all-Baroque, and moreover richly harmonized. And nicely played, as well.
In the ensuing work, Macdonald took up her viola for the Quartet in G Minor for oboe, violin, viola and continuo by the redoubtable Johann Gottlieb Janitsch (1709-1763). This also was an all-Baroque piece, all forces providing good balance in the four movements.
The program’s final work was given a woodwind flavor with Abberger’s oboe and the addition of Anna Marsh for the Sonata in B-flat by the celebrated Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745). (Reviewer confession: Except for Biber, I had heard of none of these composers.) Another surprisingly inventive Baroque work well-played, though the oboe often covered the bassoon.