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The instrumental ensemble gave a lithe, transparent reading of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 4 BWV1049. The virtuosic, stylish playing of the group's concertmaster was a particular delight. Veldhoven's fleet tempos perfectly captured the dance rhythms that underpin Bach's instrumental music. The Andante was played with melting beauty, but without the slightest suggestion of heavy handedness. The gusto and sparkling buoyancy of the Allegro and Presto were exhilarating. The brilliant articulation and gorgeous tone of recorder virtuoso Marion Verbruggen were marvelous to behold. This lively performance presented Bach's inspired music with freshness and vibrant life. The artists received a well deserved standing ovation. Here was Bach with new life, vibrant instrumental colors and bold drama -- Bach for the 21st century!

The previous evening (8 March 2004) the New York based instrumental group Rebel presented a lively, interesting concert at First United Methodist Church of Coral Gables. The vigor and dynamism of this ensemble were contagious. Under violinist-directors Jorg-Michael Schwarz and Karen Marie Marmer, this baroque band brought instrumental virtuosity and lightness of spirit to a varied program. Highlights were three delightful pieces from Il Primo Libro (1607) by Salomon Rossi (1570-c1630) -- played with grace and élan. (This music figures in the Salomon Rossi Suite by contemporary American composer Lukas Foss.) The charming ballet music of Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1620-1680), official composer to the Hapsburg Court of Vienna, was filled with strikingly original instrumental touches and inspired melodic invention. The Passacaglia in G by Georg Muffat (1653-1704) was melodically beguiling -- the perfect replacement for the overworked Pachelbel Canon. Two Sonatas by the master Georg Phillip Telemann (1681-1767) were filled with musical inspiration and performed with dynamic lightness. The organ and harpsichord playing of Dongsok Shin was boldly imaginative -- the strong continuo center of a wonderful ensemble.

The Netherlands Bach Society and Rebel are among the best of the world's baroque ensembles. With performances of such freshness and vigor, the Tropical Baroque Festival was a feast of great baroque music making! A landmark for the Miami Bach Society!

Copyright © 19 April 2004 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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