"Because we're in Washington," announced harpsichordist Owen Burdick last night at the Coolidge Auditorium, "my colleagues have dubbed me 'the Domenico Scarlatti lobbyist.' "
But unlike lobbyists, Burdick -- along with four other members of a group called Baroque Ensemble -- had an eternal rather than an expedient case to make. For these musicians delivered a performance of works by Scarlatti, Bach and Handel that was as faithful a rendering of an essential Baroque style as one is likely to hear performed these days on modern instruments.
Beginning with Handel's "Concerto a quattro" in D minor, these well-schooled performers delivered a marvelous period piece with meticulously timed accents and ritards and superbly executed dynamics. Oboist Allen Vogel's solo in the adagio was a tour de force of phrasing and breath control. Then violinist Kathleen Lanski played the allegro with enormous vigor and assertiveness.
Oboist Burdick then earned his credentials as the "Scarlatti lobbyist" by deftly performing three of the master's sonatas for harpsichord.
Aside from negligible slips by the violin and oboe in sustaining phrases during the first movement of the Bach Trio Sonata in C, the program was a tribute to each of the composers. One audience member even tapped her foot during a stirring interpretation of Bach's "Art of the Fugue." Hardly de rigueur for a Washington concert audience, but more than fitting considering the Baroque flourish in the concert hall.