Holloway/Linden/Mortensen Trio at the Library of Congress
Sunday, April 20, 2008 at 10:07AM
Stephen Brookes

By Stephen Brookes • The Washington Post • April 19, 2008

John Holloway
The Library of Congress has hosted several of the ferocious young ensembles -- including Ensemble Matheus and the Venice Baroque Orchestra -- that have lately been shaking the dust off 18th-century music with electrifying, foot-stomping performances. And God bless 'em: Vivaldi and co. needed the adrenaline desperately.  But it was equally satisfying to step back and take a breath on Thursday, when three of the finest early music specialists on the scene alighted at Coolidge Auditorium to present a quieter and more intimate -- but no less involving -- take on the baroque.

British violinist John Holloway, Dutch cellist Jaap ter Linden and Danish harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen make a formidable team, especially when exploring some of the less-trampled paths of the baroque. Relying less on power than on finely honed delicacy and wit, they turned their flavorful, astringent sound to good advantage in a program that included some unusual surprises. A sonata by the little-known Francesco Maria Veracini burned with dark imagination, and a trio by Boismortier -- famous mostly for his unflagging glibness -- was full of inventive, forward-looking rhythms and intriguing turns. Who knew?

The ensemble work was superb throughout, with violinist Holloway's thoughtful, clear-eyed intensity leading the way, particularly in Corelli's Sonata in E Minor, Op. 5, No. 8 -- an exercise in undiluted beauty, as far as these ears could make out. Ter Linden, whose playing is playful even at its most serious, delivered a breathtaking account of Vivaldi's Sonata No. 7 in G Minor, RV 42, for cello, while Mortensen -- dancing rapturously with his harpsichord throughout the evening -- brought off Couperin's ineffable "Les Barricades Mistérieuses" as if it were made of pure light.

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