The performance of "early" music on period instruments has enjoyed a healthy revival in recent years, thanks to the efforts of such groups as Plum, specialists in the Baroque and pre-Classical repertoires. Saturday evening at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, the group presented a collection of pieces drawn from the early 18th century Saxon Court in Dresden.
During the reigns of Friedrich August I and his son, Dresden was a whirlwind of artistic activity, and attracted the finest musicians. Plum's concert included works by Sylvius Weiss, Johann Quantz and Johann Goldberg (a name immortalized by J.S. Bach's dedicatory "Goldberg Variations"), artists whose contributions helped make Germany the preeminent music center.
Lutanist Howard Bass' fluid treatment of the "Suite in D Minor" by Weiss clarified the contrapuntal activity of the dances; by contrast he invested the plaintive melodies in "Tombeau sur la mort de M. Comte de Logy" with measured solemnity.
Ambitious ensemble sonatas by Johann Heinichen and Goldberg framed the program, revealing the subtle power of the music when rendered on period instruments. Oboist Patricia Nott provided piquant melodies in the Heinichen, while violinists Constance Milner and Mary Price dexterously illuminated the fugato-like themes of the gigue from the Goldberg. In both sonatas, Plum director and harpsichordist Lois Pipkin and cellist Carla Rosenberg established a sturdy foundation, occasionally interjecting colorful embellishments that blended well with the primary voices.