Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

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TAFELMUSIK BAROQUE ORCHESTRA

Baroque ensembles are a dime a dozen these days, and even the best of them can show signs of staleness. Not Tafelmusik. Having been around for almost two decades, this Toronto-based group of 19 core members plays commandingly well, whether treading the familiar terrain of Bach and Handel or introducing half-forgotten works by Stamitz and other lesser lights of the Baroque era. These musicians are erudite and faithful to Baroque instruments and techniques, but they refuse to bore us with the feeble sounds some Baroque specialists proffer as marks of authenticity. Instead, they play their hearts out, giving performances that might not have been the norm in Baroque Europe but might well have won the approval of Baroque composers, who wanted their music to have a brilliant sheen. Among them was Handel, whose festive Water Music is deceptively simple. The suite is really a compendium of tricky dance rhythms, elaborate musical studies dressed up as majestic entertainment, and I can't think of too many orchestras besides Tafelmusik that can negotiate this middle ground between strained seriousness and lighthearted fluff. The same can be said of the ensemble's approach to Purcell's Ayres for the Theatre, selections from which are also on the program, along with Bach's Concerto for Three Violins in D Minor and Vivaldi's Concerto in F Major. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; 312-294-3000. TED SHEN

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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