Cool concept, hot concert by Harmonious Blacksmith
One 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