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Music Reviews : London Baroque In Historic Sites Series

April 30, 1985|MARC SHULGOLD

The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library proved a congenial setting for the local debut of London Baroque on Sunday afternoon, in a Chamber Music in Historic Sites event. The five-member instrumental ensemble, which plays period instruments or facsimiles thereof, took full advantage of the live acoustics of the intimate reading room to present a brief program of mostly English Baroque music.

Displaying a combination of polish and verve, the quintet dashed through various chamber works by Handel, Abel, Stanley, Arne and Mozart with such enthusiasm that one barely noticed the forgettability of most of the music.

With harpsichordist John Toll providing exemplary support throughout (and making the most of his brief solos), violinists Ingrid Seifert and Richard Gwilt carried much of the program with some wickedly wonderful interplay, particularly in a delightful Trio Sonata (Opus 5, No. 4) by Handel.

Toll was joined in the continuo duties by not one, but two string bass players. The rich, deep tones of Charles Medlam on cello and William Hunt on the violone--a six-string, fretted instrument that resembles an overfed viola da gamba--effectively balanced the thinnish-sounding violins. Only in three church sonatas by Mozart did the music seem to overpower the limited range of the instruments.

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