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Music Reviews : Frances Steiner Leads Chamber Orchestra

November 18, 1987|DANIEL CARIAGA | Times Music Writer

Nomenclature is the temporary issue in the continuing history of Baroque Consortium, the South Bay ensemble now calling itself Baroque Consortium Chamber Orchestra, but scheduled to change its name soon.

Quality has not been a problem. Conducted for 13 seasons by music director Frances Steiner, the group has given informed and stylish, if sometimes inconsistent, performances of a repertory formerly centered on the 18th Century. Now, with justified encouragement from private foundations and government sources, the ensemble starts to try its wings.

Opening their fifth season in Norris Community Theater on Sunday night, Steiner and her 18-member string orchestra gave splendid accounts of music by Mozart, Bach, Hanson and Dvorak.

With modest gestures but firm musical opinions, the red-haired conductor elicited transparent textures and tight ensemble values in Mozart's Sinfonia in D, K. 136 and Dvorak's Serenade, Opus 22.

In concerted works for keyboard and strings, the ensemble collaborated with pianist Mona Golabek, who brought pristine elegance--and no extra anachronistic touches--to Bach's F-minor Concerto.

To illuminate Howard Hanson's neglected but worthy Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth (1951), Golabek utilized an effortless virtuosity, producing genuine communication, as well as round and handsome tone, on the theater's resident piano.

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