Trinity Episcopal Church
Bach's "Wedding" Cantata explains the concert's title, "That's Amore," nicely played by Ensemble Voltaire, and even better sung by guest soprano Sherezade Panthaki. This is Panthaki's second local appearance within a couple months. She sang in late November with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, both groups being under Indybaroque, Inc. sponsorship.
Last Friday's modest sized crowd filled Trinity Episcopal to about two-thirds capacity. They heard an all-Bach program, but not all the same Bach. The Voltaire players began with the Sonata in G Minor, BWV 1020/H. 542.5 for violin, flute, cello and harpsichord by the great Johann Sebastian. Though the tacked-on designation after the slash suggests the work is spurious (i.e. its composer questionable), I have no doubt that the piece is by the "great" Bach. Its style is too inimitable and its musical caliber too high to have been written by anyone else. Violinist Christopher Verrette, flutist Barbara Kallaur, cellist Elizabeth Macdonald and harpsichordist Thomas Gerber joined to bring out all the elements of the work's greatness, its complex but easy-flowing counterpoint overlaid with a lyric glow.
Next came Johann Christian Bach's Quintet in D for violin, flute, oboe, cello and harpsichord. And what a difference-in-style between father Sebastian (1685-1750) and his youngest son Christian (1735-1782): Johann Christian was a less talented forerunner of Mozart, and indeed we hear much in this quintet which suggests the early Mozart, where form dominates over content. Nonetheless, our players, with the addition of John Abberger playing a Baroque oboe, brought out some lovely moments, especially in the quintet's slow movement, containing some attractive pizzicato writing.
The elder Bach's "Wedding" Cantata - "O holder Tag," BWV 210, comprised the second half. Panthaki sang in all 10 sections: recitatives and arias interspersed. The text interestingly explores whether music is appropriate in a wedding ceremony, part of it yea and part of it nay. Panthaki's pure, light-vibrato delivery seemingly made the question moot. Regrettably, the church's acoustics added a slight shrillness to her voice, which wasn't present in her previous appearance at Christel DeHaan Center. This time Abberger played an oboe d'amore, a thinner instrument with a lighter sound.