Voyage of discovery at Museum of Fine ArtsBoston Museum Trio and Aulos Ensemble, February 3 at the Museum of Fine Arts
The MFA's resident chamber ensemble, the Boston Museum Trio, joined forces with the Aulos Ensemble to provide a voyage of discovery through the uncharted territories of early music.
The concert started with Couperin's La Sultane, which came across somewhat roughly in the early measures, though gaining in cohesiveness toward its conclusion. The Aulos Ensemble then gave Handel's Sonata da camera in G a light and airy performance. The baroque oboe playing of Marc Schachman was outstanding; there was much pleasure to be had in witnessing the interplay between oboe and violin in the opening allegro. In the second movement, especially, the oboe's dance-like capriciousness combined with the harmonies of Linda Quan's baroque violin and supported by colorful continuo to create delight. A majestic passacaille led to a spirited gigue and an elegant menuet to conclude.
The Boston Museum Trio followed with Rameau's Premi`ere Concert in C from "Pi`eces de clavecin en concerts." Daniel Stepner -- who had experienced uncharacteristic difficulties in the Couperin -- established a fine melodic line in the second movement, "La Livri;" but it was in the third movement, "Le V'ezinet," that the most brilliant dynamics were achieved. Gibbons weaved intricate patterns on harpsichord in an energetic performance, the clarity of which served to pinpoint every detail and which, in conspiracy with gamba and violin, brought out the catching humor with which the piece ends.
Anne Briggs played many charming passages on flauto traverso in Telemann's Sonata in G for flute, two violas da gamba and basso continuo. The continuo, in this piece, though, was not always as full as it might have been. Amends were quickly made, however, in Vivaldi's Concerto in C, oboe and flute floating on a rich texture of supporting strings. The flute solo at the opening movement was especially pleasing, while the vibrant mood of the closing allegro assai brought the piece to a triumphant finale.
The concert ended with Muffat's Sonata No. 5 in G. Aulos violinist Linda Quan and Boston Trio violinist Daniel Stepner balanced each other with virtuoso displays, while exploration of sonorities by the other players gave freshness to a work which might otherwise have rested in obscurity.