Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center; Nov. 19
The opening concert of most ensemble seasons normally has a sense of freshness and vitality, and this was certainly true of the IBO. This performance demonstrated one of the group’s greatest assets, their cohesiveness, and I found it to be the best of theirs that I have heard. Franz Biber’s Mensa Sonora Part II opened, and after an introduction, alternated between dance movements balletto and sarabanda, with a springy feel. Later, countertenor Steven Rickards joined the group for Domenico Scarlatti’s Salve Regina. Rickards possesses a very pure tone, perfectly suited for singing about the Virgin Mary. Carlo Farina’s Cappriccio stravagante provided some humor, with movements entitled (and shown to us on large posters) “The dog” and “hurdy gurdy” with music to match. My favorite, though, was J.S. Bach’s Concerto in d minor for Harpsichord and strings, and Thomas Gerber once again demonstrated his proficiency as a keyboardist. Occasionally, he was slightly covered by the strings, but even then you could still hear his fine musicianship.