Pro Musica Rara opens season in style
I've only sampled the last eight of Pro Musica Rara's three decades, so I don't know what things were like in the early days. What I can say is that the ensemble, devoted to early music played on period instruments, has gotten steadily better in the past few years since cellist Allen Whear became artistic director. Yesterday afternoon's 34th season-opener was a case in point -- interesting repertoire given classy performances by accomplished musicians. (I ducked out a little early to get to the Leon Fleisher concert at Shriver Hall.)
The presentation at Towson University's Center for the Arts, an ideal space in acoustics and atmosphere for Pro Musica, focused on German baroque composers and had the considerable advantage of Nina Stern's virtuosity on the recorder. She coaxed myriad shadings from the instrument in a solo Fantasia by Telemann and blended beautifully with Whear, violinist Cynthia Roberts and harpsichordist Avi Stein in trio sonatas by Telemann and Handel. Roberts had the spotlight in one of Biber's Mystery Sonatas and made the most of it with nimble, stylish playing, with vivid support from Whear and Stein. The harpsichordist got a solo moment, too, turning in a bravura, colorful account of a Toccata by Froberger. Some solo cello music of Bach, eloquently phrased by Whear, was added to the program as a memorial to longtime patron and board member of Pro Musica, Charlotte Truesdell, who died over the summer.
Pro Musica Rara's season continues Nov. 2 with a concert featuring members of the New York Baroque Dance Company.
BALTIMORE SUN FILE PHOTO (Allen Whear)