Classical Review: JBO

Jerusalem Theater, January 24

Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra 390 (photo credit: Courtesy of Dan Porges)
Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra 390
(photo credit: Courtesy of Dan Porges)
One assumes German Baroque composer Georg Telemann knew why the movements of his Overture of Ancient and Modern Nations were entitled “Germans,” “Swedish” and “Danish.” The audience at the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra’s recent concert, on the other hand, did not. The composer’s intentions became unmistakably clear, though, in the “Old Women” movement; all its characters, of whatever nationality, as described as plaintive.
There was nothing distinguishably “Indian” about Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Les Indes Galants, except for a Peruvian drum in one of the movements.
It did, however, contain some of this composer’s most well-known tunes, which made a pleasant encounter. If there was no Indian gallantry, at least there was much French elegance.
In Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto BV 1056, the solo instrument’s sound was much too small for the large Henry Crown Hall, rendering it almost inaudible, which did a grave injustice to harpsichordist- conductor Ketil Haugsand whose artistic efforts could be seen but hardly heard.
To make matters worse, the orchestra’s volume was so high that it overshadowed the harpsichord most of the time. Haugsand, blissfully unaware of this unbalance, did not attempt to restrain the orchestra’s dynamics.
Bach’s orchestral Suite No. 1, in a lively, fresh and invigorating performance, far from the pompous, slow, more conventional rendition often heard, brought the concert to an enjoyable conclusion.
Since the JBO insists on having its guest conductors present their enlightening comments without the aid of a microphone, not only did the music appealed to the audience’s imagination, but so did the talks.