The historic Barney Studio House, which lurks inconspicuously on Massachusetts Avenue hiding all the ornate wood splendor inside, proved to be a wondrous setting for the Wondrous Machine and its early classical music last night.
All of the composers represented in the program have escaped from the rigorous musical restrictions of 18th-century lyricism in an exciting way. This revival of simplicity, emerging from the swirling waters of J.S. Bach and the Baroque, was portrayed convincingly by the four performers, almost as if a historical breath of fresh air were in their blood. For example, Luigi Boccherini's music, which is known by many as simply boring, suddenly came to life in his "Trio in F Major" Op. 14, No. 6. The opening Larghetto played on period string instruments by Mary Price (violin), Melissa Graybeal (viola) and Kenneth Slowik (cello) created a full, reedy organ-grinder's sound, as the long bow strokes held a captivating interest. Later movements helped define the composer's passion for expanding traditional views on melodic content.
Johann Christian Bach's "Quartet for Oboe, Violin and Cello" in B flat brought all the players back on stage with an exciting finale to the evening's entertainment. Stanley King's oboe sounded sweet and blended unusually well with the strings, while the melodic individuality of each instrument added to a successful display of emotion and clarity.