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PERFORMING ARTS

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A lighter approach to Brahms's Quartet No. 2 was also a good choice. The music can sound like fabric too tightly woven, but the Tak┬┐cs aired out Brahms's thick textures, allowing colors to shine through. Oddly, the group rushed the opening movement with unnecessary compression.

Overall, it was a small quibble among memorable performances.

-- Tom Huizenga

Red Priest

If slapstick and the frenetic are your idea of a good time, then the show Red Priest put on at the Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown on Saturday was right up your alley.

The recorder, violin, cello and harpsichord quartet, a purveyor of reconstructed (or perhaps deconstructed) baroque music, has put together a program called "Pirates of the Baroque," mostly its own arrangements (and spoofs) of music by such revered names as Bach, Telemann, Tartini, Corelli and Vivaldi (the original "Red Priest"). This the quartet romped through dressed in pirate-like garb and with heavy reliance on a small repertoire of sight gags.

The musicians' technical virtuosity is impressive. Ensemble leader Piers Adams can play faster and with cleaner articulation than any recorder artist I've ever heard. Violinist David Greenberg plays with splendid agility. Cellist Angela East, who spent most of the evening unenviably assigned to cellistic snarling, showed her true colors in a relatively straightforward and lyrical account of the Prelude from Bach's First Cello Suite. And harpsichordist Howard Beach roared around the keyboard in a manner that, to baroque ears, would have sounded thunderous.

Musically, the evening's main message and laugh producer was speed; the faster the notes burbled out, the more the audience seemed to enjoy it. The spotlight may have been on irreverence, but the repertoire of punch lines seemed thin indeed.

Of course, Red Priest hasn't invented the art of spoofing classical music. Among others, Victor Borge, Anna Russell and even Mozart (with his "Musikalischer Spass") were there first -- and a lot funnier.

-- Joan Reinthaler


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