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The Brandenburgs Endure

November 28, 2006

bach-hausmann.jpgThe Washington Post 11/28/06:  It's probably impossible to escape the Brandenburg Concertos. These six works by Bach are a touchstone of our musical language; they're constantly on the radio and in films, and television producers trot them out whenever they need a touch of culture. Even the residents of Betelgeuse may hum them by now -- one's on the famous "Golden Record" that Voyager carried into space back in 1977.

Yet no matter how often they're heard, the Brandenburgs never really get stale, as the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra demonstrated on Sunday at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church. Under the energetic direction of Sylvia Alimena, the group has mounted an annual Brandenburg Festival for the past four years. It always captures the joy and exuberance that keeps this music so amazingly fresh.

Playing without a conductor, the musicians opened strongly with Concerto No. 3 in G. Despite a slightly smeary start, they soon found a fine balance between delicacy and driving power, building layer upon layer of Bach's exhilarating counterpoint into an unstoppable juggernaut of sound.

The rest of the program was equally satisfying. These are all virtuoso pieces, and the Eclipse players (most of whom are with the National Symphony Orchestra) handled the technical demands with style. Harpsichordist William Neil turned in a fine and focused reading of the Concerto No. 5 in D; the interplay between flutists Carole Bean and Alice Weinreb in Concerto No. 4 in G was a real delight; and violinists Elisabeth Adkins, Paula Akbar and Holly Hamilton all shone. A perfect reminder of why the Brandenburgs will continue to endure -- even, perhaps, on Betelgeuse.


Posted on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 10:01AM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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