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And while rap ballads such as "Come Close," from 2002's infamously strange "Electric Circus," and "The Light" will always be overly sentimental to some, the crowd seemed to find them nothing but sweet.
-- Sarah Godfrey
Has it really been three decades since Christopher Kendall and Robert Eisenstein launched the Folger Consort? Little matter. As they showed Friday night at the Shakespeare Library during the opening concert of their 31st season, the venerable ensemble is as lively and engaging as ever.
The concert, dubbed "Groves of Antiquity," was a particular pleasure, showcasing the extraordinary soprano Rosa Lamoreaux in a program centered around three early 18th-century cantatas. The small scale of the works -- Rameau's "Le Berg¿re Fid¿le," Vivaldi's "All'Ombra di Sospetto" and Pergolesi's "Orfeo" -- allowed Lamoreaux to bring a subtle, delicately calibrated sense of drama to each, and her singing -- as always -- was riveting. The purely instrumental works on the program didn't fare quite as well. Harpsichordist Webb Wiggins got off to an interesting start in Forqueray's "Cinqui¿me Suite" before things got away from him in the third movement, and baroque flutist Colin St. Martin's tone was so soft in Telemann's Quartet in A Minor that a couple of medium-size butterflies could have drowned him out. Perhaps the most satisfying playing of the evening came from violinist Linda Quan, who led an account of Jean-Marie Leclair's Trio Sonata in D that was both authentic and strikingly eloquent -- enhanced by the razor-sharp interplay with Eisenstein on the viol.
-- Stephen Brookes