In his famous treatise, "The Art of Playing on the Violin," the 18th-century composer-theorist Francesco Geminiani begins by stating: "The Intention of Musick is not only to please the Ear, but to express Sentiments, strike the Imagination, affect the Mind, and command the Passions." Last night at the Washington Cathedral, a chamber quartet presented a program of Baroque works that fulfilled Geminiani's criteria.
Violinist Jane Emily Starkman, harpsichordist James Wright and cellist Carla Rosenberg, all frequent performers in local chamber ensembles, joined forces with recorder player Andrew Waldo for some abendmusik (evening music), spotlighting the Italian Baroque as a national style and as an influence on later German composers, such as Bach and Telemann.
Frescobaldi's sunny Canzonas II and III were an informal introduction to Geminiani's Sonata in C for Violoncello and Continuo, where Wright's harmonic foundation anchored the fleet sequences, dramatic tempo changes and shifts in mode smoothly executed by Rosenberg.
J.S. Bach's Sonata in G for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1019, found Wright's right hand busily keeping pace with the colorful melodic figurations entrusted to Starkman. For their part, a sweltering contingent of the audience fanned in time to Bach's sprightly 4/4.