It is such a pleasure to welcome the Aulos Ensemble back to Kohl Mansion with yet another artfully curated magical program of pre-classical chamber music. Mr. Schachman’s wonderful program notes are rich and revealing but I can’t resist offering of few additional observations as a kind of contrapuntal commentary to draw as much as possible from this compelling musical collection.
Compared with the pervasive classical ensembles such as the string quartet and piano trio that dominate the chamber repertoire, the Baroque era refreshes with its colorful and flexible instrumentation. The blended unity of a “whole” consort of like instruments gives way to the “broken” consort of distinctive individual timbres that tend towards a constantly shifting mosaic of dynamic groupings. This vividly highlights the contrapuntal textures by giving each voice its own color placed in strong relief against the others. The additional flexibility to assign a variety of instruments to each part while maintaining the integrity of the “absolute” music supports the spontaneity of true domestic music making. Consider Bach’s organ sonatas moving from the keyboard to four individual players or Vivaldi’s chamber concerti scaling down to an equally intimate group. (more…)