Tenor David Gordon -- a model of phrasing, control and style--is also an irresistible performer. Singing last night with the Hesperus chamber ensemble, he brought simplicity and charm to a program of German baroque music.
He sang Bach's Cantata No. 189 ("My Soul Exalts and Praises") with serenity and conviction; the audience in the Corcoran Gallery of Art hung on every word and note. It was the cozy little triumph of an admirably balanced evening of jewel boxes (Scheidt's early-baroque "musical games" and a sacred cantata by Schu tz) and treasure chests (a quartet by Telemann and two works by Bach).
Gordon, no slouch in the lung department, has been doing the broadly comic role of Pedrillo in the Washington Opera's production of Mozart's "The Abduction from the Seraglio." Last night, singing Schu tz and Bach to a counterpoint of woodwinds and strings, he showed an exquisite sense of the smaller scale, and sang with clear diction and attack--though "attack" doesn't quite describe his lyrically melting tone.
The Hesperus ensemble gave a nicely textured reading of Telemann's Quartet in G Major, with attention to the work's slyly shifting dance rhythms. Robert Eisenstein and James Wright played Bach's Sonata in G Major for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord. It was a correct and understated performance, which wouldn't have suffered if Eisenstein had bowed a bit more robustly.