Chicago Baroque Ensemble | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chicago Baroque Ensemble


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Few could have predicted that the keyboard music of Antonio Soler as performed by harpsichordist David Schrader would become a series of best-selling CDs for the local label Cedille. After all, the oeuvre of the prolific Catalan monk is as obscure as Spanish baroque music is in general. Now, thanks to Schrader, critical opinion on this 18th-century composer is being upgraded. Previously perceived as a skilled disciple of Domenico Scarlatti, Soler can now also be viewed as an imaginative trendsetter working at the cusp of two stylistic eras. His keyboard pieces are filled with daredevil technique, razor-sharp rhythms, and a fondness for syncopation; in Schrader's brilliant interpretations, the assorted sonatas and fandangos impress with a sunny disposition and bouncy vibrancy. Even more virtuosic are the six keyboard quintets published as a set in 1776, whose string parts are agile in action and light in texture. Schrader and four period-instrument stringers recorded the first three for Cedille about four years ago, earning praise for their liveliness and balance. This weekend he'll be recording the rest in collaboration with fellow members of the highly respected Chicago Baroque Ensemble. Expect elegant phrasing and warm tones from Schrader and CBE's Christopher Verrette and Jeri-Lou Zike (violins), Susan Rozendaal (viola), and John Mark Rozendaal (cello). Friday, 8 PM, Church of the Ascension, 1133 N. LaSalle; 274-2528. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Burlingham.

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