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Texas Camerata's baroque journey to Germany is a first-class excursion

Posted 4:08am on Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013

FORT WORTH -- It was a brief tour of Germany, but all of the stops were fine choices.

Original instruments ensemble Texas Camerata presented a concert focusing on the music of the country that gave us Bach and Beethoven at Trinity Episcopal Church on Monday. The atypical night and venue were the result of the concert's moving from its originally scheduled time to avoid conflicting with the memorial service for Nancy Lee Bass on Saturday.

The concert, which featured two guest soloists, was part of the group's Baroque Journeys series -- a season of performances highlighting the early music of a specific nation. And Germany has such an embarrassment of musical riches that this concert was the second visit this season for the ensemble. Poor France, Spain and Italy got only one show each. (Recall the ambassadors!)

Baritone and UTA music professor David Grogan was featured in the J.S. Bach Canata, Ich habe genug, which was performed in its entirety, and an aria from Es reisset euch ein schrecklich Ende, in which he was accompanied by Adam Gordon on Baroque trumpet. He was exceedingly smooth throughout with a voice that was light and clear on the top (where he did his best work) and yet still full in the lower registers. Both compositions were also appealing, especially the former cantata, which is one of the many that includes something of a hit aria, at least by Baroque standards.

The other guest soloist on the bill was UNT professor Paul Leenhouts, who performed on recorder in concertos by Fasch and Telemann. He strung together an impressive chain of trills and runs for the Fasch and was highly engaging in his exchanges with fellow soloist Lee Lattimore on flute in the Telemann. The two instruments, which have similar but not identical voices, worked well both in unison and when playing off one another.

The Texas Camerata regulars opened the program with the Concerto No. 2 for Trumpet, Strings and Continuo by the rarely heard Christoph Graupner. Trumpeter Gordon had a few difficulties with his brutally unforgiving instrument but, on the whole, he won a great many more battles than he lost.

The cozy and pleasant venue was kind to the vocalist and strings. But it is not an especially live room, and there was a great deal of open space behind the players, so some of the softer sounds were lost at times.

The ensemble presented the concert like a tourist with a rapidly expiring visa, wrapping up the intermission-less performance in only 70 minutes. But that is a compliment, not a criticism, because so much good music was offered in such a tidy span. And we never even had to leave Germany.

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