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Rebel Baroque at Clarice Smith

rebel_orch.jpgBy Stephen Brookes
The Washington Post • October 9, 2007

The world of baroque music is, of course, a volatile, action-packed place, rife with subversive ideas and aggressive, hard-driving players. You were thinking periwigs and dainty little minuets? Not anymore. Over the past two decades, a new generation of musicians has been pumping blood back into the veins of the baroque -- unleashing music that, it turns out, can be almost shockingly fierce.

One of the best new groups is the New York-based Rebel (emphasis on the second syllable) Baroque Orchestra, which put on a fast, furiousconcert at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Sunday night. Building around two of the twelve remarkable concertos by Vivaldi known as "L'Estro Armonico," the group explored the work of several lesser known composers, including Angelo Ragazzi, Giuseppe Valentini and Alessandro Stradella, and found some intriguing connections among them.

But it was the playing -- fiery, alive and beautifully controlled -- that made the evening. The ensemble's leaders, violinists Jorg-Michael Schwarz and Karen Marie Marmer, set the tone, paring ornamentation to a minimum and letting the raw power of the music emerge. The ensemble work was impressively tight -- things can get a bit messy when you're playing with this much passion -- and many of the 11 players turned in eloquent solos. Schwarz's handling of Telemann's "Concerto in D" had a gripping, almost savage edge, while violinist Christoph Timpe gave an intensely personal account of Ragazzi's "Sonata XII in G." And it was a rare treat to hear David Kjar on the valveless "natural" trumpet, bringing a singing tone and impressive virtuosity to this diabolically difficult instrument.

Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 at 08:30PM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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