Mezzo-soprano Ute Jahr and a small instrumental group brought a program of oddly assorted music to the United Church on Saturday. There were baroque trios by Vivaldi and C.P.E. Bach, treated sympathetically if occasionally unevenly by flutist Penelope Fischer, violist David Basch, cellist Heather McCloud and harpsichordist Stephen Swedish. For her own part, Jahr warmed up slowly on a Handel aria, but in two Bach arias, her singing was musical and intelligent.
Unaccountably, at this point, Swedish switched to the piano for an anachronistic reading, with Basch, of a very nice but very baroque sonata by Eccles. This he followed with two pieces from Ravel's "Mirrors." Swedish is an accomplished pianist and he played the Ravel convincingly and articulately, but the piece was surely out of place in this company. The program sounded vulgar rather than intriguing.
The concert ended with two of the Brahms songs for alto, viola and piano. Basch drew out the gorgeous Brahms lines with a warmth and beauty that Jahr, unfortunately, was not able to match.
Her voice in this concert did not sound like a settled one. It was big, but not ample. It had an edge where it needed warmth and a roughness where it needed body. There were moments of true loveliness in her singing, but not enough of them.