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Concert agreeable, not spectacular

Boston Museum Trio with Christopher Krueger, baroque flute, Museum of Fine Arts, September 26; to be repeated September 29 at 3pm.

The first of this season's concerts at the Museum of Fine Arts was agreable, rather than spectacular. John Gibbons did play with elegance and wit in this all-Bach concert; and Laura Jeppesen contributed some colorful gamba playing. But Daniel Stepner did not seem quite relaxed -- and fell short of his normally exacting standards -- while Christopher Krueger was also sometimes off-par.

The evening started with the Sonata for Violin and Basso continuo in G, BWV 1021. Gibbons' firm touch gave the continuo a resilient quality which added pleasure, not just polish, to the occasionally squeaky solo playing of Daniel Stepner.

The crisp harpsichord of John Gibbons was complemented by the stylish gamba bowing of Laura Jeppesen to add pique to the melancholy introduced by Christopher Krueger's flute in Diess sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot', BWV 678 and Fughetta super Diess sind die heil'gen zehn Gebot, BWV 679 from Dritter Theil der Clavier Uebung. There was a delightful passage of rhythms between instruments: The interchange between violin, flute and gamba built on the subtle textures of this piece.

The Sonata for Harpsichord and Flute in B minor, BWV 1030 was less satisfying. While we heard further brilliant harpsichord playing, and some virtuoso work from Christopher Krueger -- particularly in the presto, Krueger lapsed into blandness for several passages that were polite, rather than majestic.

The highlight of the evening came in Gibbons' and Jeppesen's rendition of the Sonata for Harpsichord and Viola da gamba in G, BWV 1027. Jeppesen's gamba glowed and blended smoothly with Gibbons' harpsichord playing. The sound was full; the intertwining harmonies satisfying.

Gibbons' harpsichord playing remained animated to the end of the final work --Sonata on the Royal Theme for Flute Violin, and Basso continuo, BWV 1079,8 from the Musical Offering. Stepner did put in some fine violin playing, and Krueger's sound expanded its palette, but altogether the evening ended on a pleasant, not exultant note.

Jonathan Richmond->