The esteemed Atlanta Baroque Orchestra presented a program as part of its 16th anniversary retrospective. The concert on January 12 at the Roswell Presbyterian church was very well attended. AMC estimates that there may have been 300-350 people. The afternoon was sunny and AMC thought that there be no better way to spend a cold and beautiful Sunday afternoon than listening to the ABO. For the most part, this was born out. Handel's Concerto Grossi are always wonderful to hear. The Op. 3 No. 5 here was performed quite beautifully. The Telemann Suite for viola da gamba and strings, while lovely, seemed to have a balance problem. The viola da gamba does not have a big voice, so it is easily swamped by other instruments. Here, the harpsichord seemed to be so loud that AMC thought that maybe it was really a harpsichord concerto with viola da gamba accompaniment. It unclear if the harpsichord was too large, or played with a too heavy hand, or that the viola da gamba was being played a bit to delicately.
Jubel! received it premiere performance here. It was composed by Martha Bishop, a sometimes instrumentalist for the ABO. The piece was sort of a homage to baroque music. At times it seemed almost authentic, but then it would move into interludes of indistinct rhythm. It was sometimes jarring, but not offensive. It is a solid composition that seemed to fit well with the ABO style.
The Vivaldi was bright and happy- as is so much of Vivaldi's music- at least to AMC. The two flutes had a wonderful dark breathy quality
The final piece by Muffat was sort of a let down. By the time it started, AMC was longing for a bit more hard edge after the polite first five pieces. AMC would have liked to hear something a little bit more exciting. It is not fair to criticize the ABO for something it does not purport to be, that is, an ensemble with brass and percussion. But sometimes the "what could have been" is preferable to the "what was."
Congratulations to the ABO for its anniversary.