All-Bach Program Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord St. Andrew’s Church, May 7.

violin 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
violin 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Arare opportunity to hear Bach’s Sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord, performed on the original instruments and not the more frequently heard cello, was provided by Myrna Herzog and David Shemer.
The performance was perfectly faithful to style, rendered with facility and elegance that left no trace of the works’ formidable technical demands. Melodic phrases were virtually sung on the instruments and shaped with loving care.
The artists’ mutual attentiveness highlighted the frequent responsorial episodes, and contrapuntal textures were clear, without gliding into academic dryness, but radiating the joy of music.
Partita No. 3 for harpsichord, performed impressively by Shemer, contributed versatility to the program.
The performance would have been even more enjoyable in a venue with more listener-friendly acoustics.
These instruments’ delicate sounds, designed for an intimate Baroque salon, tend to get lost in the over-sized dimensions of this church, and their balance got blurred, resulting in a deplorable loss of transparency.
One wishes the artists and the audience a performance of these fascinating works in an acoustically more suitable hall.