The sixth annual Baroque Music Festival of Corona del Mar closed Sunday evening with a two-in-one concert at St. Michael & All Angels Church. Festival director Burton Karson surrounded works featuring harpsichordist Malcolm Hamilton with choral cantatas in a balanced, unhackneyed program.
Only Bach's Fifth "Brandenburg" Concerto could be considered standard repertory here. In Hamilton's hands, the famous cadenza proved more an uneven display of finger speed than a measured musical statement. He supported the fluent efforts of violinist Clayton Haslop and flutist Susan Stockhammer, however, in a nobly poised Adagio.
After the intermission, Hamilton returned to play the sprightly lead in Vittorio Rieti's neo-Baroque Partita (1945). Ably seconded by Stockhammer, oboist Donald Leake and a string quartet, he made a pithy, entertaining case for the unduly neglected work.
Haslop and Stockhammer essayed some pertinent embellishment in the "Brandenburg" Adagio, but Karson's Baroque interpretations were generally faceless. As conductor of the instrumental pieces, he was content to beat time, smiling benevolently on all and sundry.