The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble explored neglected virtuosic Baroque music with artistry and enterprise. | December 3, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who for 12 years hosted an early music show every other Sunday morning on WORT-FM 89.9 FM. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison.


By John W. Barker

The latest concert by the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble was held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal church on Regent Street, on last Sunday afternoon.

The familiar members of the group were mezzo-soprano Consuelo Sañudo; Brett Lipshutz, flute; Monica Steger, recorder, flute and harpsichord; Eric Mills, viola da gamba; Anton TenWolde, cello; and Max Yount, harpsichord. As usual, most had at least one solo appearance and all participated in one or more ensembles. (NOTE: Performance photos are by John W. Barker.)

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble DEc 2015 JWB

The music that was performed might be divided into four categories.

One was vocal. In each half of the program, Sañudo brought her dramatic flair to two Italian cantatas by George Frideric Handel: Nel dolce dell’oblio and Mi palpita il cor.

In the second category, there were two works for unaccompanied low stringed instrument. TenWolde opened the first half with a ricercata by Giovanni Batista deli Antonii (1636-1689), one of the earlier published pieces for violoncello.

Wisconsin Barique Ensemble Anton ten Wolde Nov 2015 JWB

Miller (below) closed the first half with one of the earliest published works for gamba, a Suite by one M. de Machy (later 17th century). Further on, Yount played a harpsichord Suite by Georg Böhm (1661-1733).

Eric Miller Nov 2015 JWB

Representing a third category, Lipshutz played a Sonata for traverso flute by Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721-1783).

The second half was framed by two ensemble sets, which constituted the fourth category. One was the Second of the Concerts royaux by François Couperin (1668-1733), played by flute, gamba, and harpsichord. (You can hear the Couperin suite in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

The other was a quadro, or French Quartet, by Georg Phillip Telemann (1681-1767), for two flutes and cello with continuo, delivered by all five instrumentalists.

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble Consuelo Sanuda, Monica Steger JWB

Plainly, the menu was a varied one, full of individually interesting and appealing music. All of it required not only informed musicianship from the performers but also considerable virtuosity.

It must always be remembered that the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, founded in 1990 by Ten Wolde, is the oldest still operating organization in Madison devoted to early music.

It remains outstanding in its artistry and enterprise.


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