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November 18, 2008

Cool concept, hot concert by Harmonious Blacksmith

Harmonious BlacksmithOne of the indelible anecdotes about Bach's youth involves his eldest brother who took him in after their parents died. The story goes that the brother, a rather severe type, wouldn't let his musically inquisitive sibling have unbridled access to a valued music book containing works by various composers. So Bach supposedly snuck down to get the book in the middle of the night, carried it to his room and copied out the pieces by the light of the silvery moon. Who cares if it never happened or if it is a wee bit exaggerated? It sure fits with what we know of the composer's curiosity -- throughout his life, he was interested in what other composers were doing and often transcribed their work.

On Sunday afternoon, before a sizable audience in the fitting elegance of the ballroom of the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion (Engineers Club), the engaging ensemble known as Harmonious Blacksmith gave a concert inspired by the tale of Bach's moonlit activity, featuring the kinds of things he may have diligently copied, along with some of his own compositons. It all added up to an appealingly diverse program sensitively delivered on period instruments.

Highlights included Joseph Gascho's elegant solo harpsichord playing of music by Buxtehude and Reinken, and Justin Godoy's mellow tone and nimble articulation on the recorder in several item, inclouding a deftly shaded Bach sonata. There were fine contributions, too, during the afternoon by violinist Christine Hauptly Annin and cellist Nika Zlataric. Harmonious Blacksmith will be back at the mansion in May for a program of English baroque. Gascho will explore pre-1750 keyboard music in a concert in March at An die Musik.

Photo of Justin Godoy, left, and Joseph Gascho, courtesy of Harmonious Blacksmith


Posted by Tim Smith at 1:02 PM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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