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In performance: Folger Consort

Web-only review:

Folger Consort roughs it with German Christmas
by Charles T. Downey

The Folger Consort unveiled its new Christmas concert program Friday night in the Folger Shakespeare Library's festively decorated Elizabethan Theater. Recently this concert's theme has rotated through the early music of various European national traditions: After Italy and France, England (including a stunningly effective "Second Shepherds' Play" in 2007), and Spain, it was Germany's turn.
(read more after the jump)

Disappointment with the results cannot be attributed to the programming. Both perpetual favorites and new discoveries were produced by pairing Michael Praetorius's vocal music with instrumental selections by Samuel Scheidt, Johann Schein and Heinrich Scheidemann.

The Cantate Chamber Singers, who provided both the choral and solo parts, were a little rough-hewn in sound by comparison to the smaller, more refined vocal ensembles who have partnered with the Folger Consort in the past. There were enough voices to make the necessary distinction in sound mass between soloists and tutti and in the double-choir selections, but infelicities in intonation and quality of vocal tone were too noticeable.

The instrumental selections, featuring various combinations of early instruments, had problems, too, most evident in an ensemble breakdown during Scheidt's "Canzon Bergamasca," which had to be restarted. Lack of rehearsal seemed to be the culprit, as the group was practicing in the closed theater just before the concert, and quality should improve later in the run.

The ensemble redeemed itself in the second half with a raucous performance of Scheidt's busily imitative "Canzon Super Intradam Aechiopicam." Webb Wiggins, who was a quiet but reliable presence on the continuo organ, gave an accomplished reading of Scheidemann's "Praeambulum in D Minor," which had enough chromatic deviation to curl one's hair.

The program repeats through December 20th.

-- Charles T. Downey

By Anne Midgette  |  December 14, 2009; 5:45 AM ET
Categories:  local reviews  
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Next: In performance: Cathedral Choral Society


My take.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | December 14, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

(Note that I went the next day and they were still having problems in the ensemble. The Cantate folks sounded pretty good, though.)

Posted by: Lindemann777 | December 14, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

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