The Smithsonian Chamber Players, having focused on the art of recreating the sounds of 17th- and 18th-century music for several years now, are adding a new dimension to bringing history to life. Their concert at the Hall of Musical Instruments last night reconstructed an entire "Concert Spirituel" that was attended by Thomas Jefferson in Paris in 1786. This program had been presented on All Souls' Day of that year as a sober and fitting secular entertainment for a religious holiday, and, like most concerts of the period, featured a lengthy succession of concerti and concert arias. This particular one had starred an 11-year-old pianist, and, for last night's recreation, director James Weaver found a worthy successor in 13-year-old Linda Huang who played a movement of a concerto by Kozeluch on the Smithsonian forte-piano with aplomb.
Soprano Linda Mabb gave lovely accounts of some lilting but somewhat busy "Aires Italien" by Myslivecek, Sarti and Gresnick, and tenor Stanley Cornett did smooth job of another Sarti air.
The rest of the composers were as obscure. The names Rague, Bertheaume and Vogel are not likely to ring any bells. Their music tends to chug along in charming but inconsequential ways, and the performances by an orchestra of 17 players were more notable for style than for polish. But the occasion was more than the music itself. It had a context that made the whole thing fun and superb entertainment.