Concert Review: JBO French Baroque

JBO French Baroque
YMCA
May 2

The 350-year birthday of French Baroque composer Francois Couperin was celebrated by the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra, conducted by David Shemer, performing some of his and his contemporaries’ – George Muffat and Jeann Philippe Rameau – works.

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French Baroque composers have become, for some strange reason, less well known than their contemporary colleagues in Germany – Bach, Handel, Telemann – and Itsly – Vivaldi, Corellli Pergolesi.

Since their music is not less attractive, the reason may possibly be poorer Public Relations in France than elsewhere.

The JBO deserves, therefore, to be congratulated for reviving these mostly forgotten masters.

The selection of works, though, was problematic. One naively expects music performed by an ensemble called Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra to be performed actively by the orchestra.

Couperin’s Lecons de Tenebres for voice, harpsichord and basso continuo are more suitable for a small, intimate chamber music hall than for a large symphony concert hall such as the YMCA, where the immensely appealing voices of soprano Ye’ela Avital and mezzo-soprano Anat Czarny run the risk of getting lost, while several orchestra members are sitting idly on the stage like unemployed musical decorations.

Most dramatic, at the concert’s end, was Rameau’s Suite from Les Indes Galants – not surprisingly, since Rameau was one of his time’s greatest opera composers.