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Review: Texas Camerata presents concert worthy of royalty

Posted 9:38pm on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013

FORT WORTH — It is easy to understand why all the king’s horses were not needed at all.

Original instruments ensemble Texas Camerata put together a concert at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth on Saturday afternoon under the banner of All the King’s Men — a reference to its program composed of works for or about royalty of some stripe, including the Prince of Peace.

But in contrast to the nursery rhyme-origin of its title, there was certainly nothing broken about this performance of Baroque works, which featured guest vocal soloists Camille King (soprano) and Ian McEuen (tenor).

The performance packed a great deal into its tidy, 70-minute running time: four arias from J.S. Bach cantatas, two arias from Alessandro Scarlatti and three additional works.

The performance opened, however, with an instrumental work, the overture from Atalanta by G.F. Handel, which was composed to honor the marriage of a Prince of Wales named Frederick, not Charles. It was a delightful work and introduced the audience to the sort of unusual combinations of the instruments we would be hearing throughout the concert.

Adam Gordon fought the good fight with his challenging Baroque trumpet (a valveless, unforgiving horn) with the support of fellow Camerata regulars, Kevin Hall (bassoon), Karen Hall (cello), Robert August (harpsichord) and Kristin Van Cleve and Ellen Lovelace (violins).

McEuen was heard first with an aria from Bach’s cantata Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erlkinget, ihr Saiten! He displayed a full, rich lower range, but was most pleasing when taking on higher passages. And his articulation of the German text also seemed particularly good. This young singer, who is in his second year as a Studio Artist with the Fort Worth Opera, has the ring of an up-and-comer in his voice.

King, who is member of the voice faculty at Southern Methodist University, was featured in the arias by A. Scarlatti (father of the slightly better known harpsichord master, Domenico Scarlatti). She displayed a quick voice and nice attack in those works, the second of which found her accompanied by just trumpet and continuo. She switched from Italian to English for selections from Corydon, a cantata by Johann Christoph Pepusch, with equally positive results.

Also making a significant contributions to the concert were the Camerata’s flutist, Lee Lattimore, who stood out in one of the Bach works, and Karen Hall, who had some especially nice moments on both the viola de gamba and Baroque cello on several works.

It would be hard to single out any one piece as the day’s best, but the Trio in A Major for two violins and continuo by British composer William Boyce was a nice change of pace. And the concert’s closing work, from Bach’s cantata Auf, mein Herz! Des Herren Tag, was especially enjoyable because it was the only work featuring both King and EcEuen.

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