Chicago Baroque Ensemble | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chicago Baroque Ensemble

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CHICAGO BAROQUE ENSEMBLE

You don't have to know anything about antique instruments to enjoy the Chicago Baroque Ensemble's collaboration with Rachel Barton, but if you do you may get an extra kick out of these performances. Over the summer John Mark Rozendaal, artistic director of the ensemble, took out a loan to buy a bass viola da gamba made circa 1650 by English master craftsman William Turner. The instrument can produce both the dense, chocolaty sound favored by German Baroque composers and the transparent reediness considered superior by their French counterparts--including Jean-Philippe Rameau, Michel Blavet, and Jean-Marie Leclair, whose music will be featured here. The Turner is likely to be put to best use in Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concert--an example of the French style at its most ingratiating, in which the viola de gamba parts are meant to evoke masters Marais (who supposedly played like an angel) and Forqueray (like the devil). Leclair was a daredevil violinist as well as a composer, and his concerti for his own instrument were meant as showpieces to impress his royal patrons. Two of those, numbers 3 and 6 of his Opus 10, will star Barton, who plays an Italian Amati, a near contemporary of Rozendaal's Turner. Of the three composers, Blavet is now the most obscure, though he was a celebrated flutist in Paris in the early 18th century. His courtly Concerto in A Minor features soloist and CBE member Anita Miller-Reider, one of the most nimble and knowledgeable period flutists around. Next Saturday, January 3, 8 PM, Blair Chapel, Fourth Presbyterian Church, 115 E. Delaware; next Sunday, January 4, 4 PM, Kenilworth Club, 410 Kenilworth Ave., Kenilworth; and next Monday, January 5, 6 PM, Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson. 312-464-0600. TED SHEN

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

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