If anyone needs reminding, period instrument bands are no longer scratchy-sounding aggregations of semi-amateur eccentrics. Which, in the case of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, may be no more than to say that it is a slick-sounding group of professional eccentrics.
Tuesday evening at Ambassador Auditorium, the Bay Area-based orchestra displayed virtually flawless ensemble and light, pleasant tone. Under the affable, peppy direction of Nicholas McGegan, the group has an assured, resourceful style that would sound polished by the standards of any age.
But three large suites of music, composed about the middle of the 18th Century for the orchestra of the Paris Opera, proved harder to appreciate than the verve and elegance with which the Philharmonians played them.
An extended group of dances from Rameau's "Platee," including two in encore, was the most consistently engaging. The pieces have a piquant, quirky character, often twitting dance conventions of the time, and Rameau produced some remarkably varied scoring from limited means.