The Bach Chamber Soloists and their luggage parted company en route to Washington, explained guest tenor David Gordon to the Wolf Trap Barns audience, which was no doubt perplexed by the group's casual attire. Comparing the peripatetic musicians' life today with J.S. Bach's insular existence, Gordon added a new bit of trivia to Bach scholarship, namely that the composer never lost his belongings flying Republic Airlines.
Fortunately, fate was kinder to the instruments -- they arrived on time. The Soloists -- harpsichordist Spencer Carroll, violinist Benjamin Hudson, flutist Susan Palma and cellist Adriana Contino -- often balance Bach with other kinds of music, and their well-rounded repertoires certainly become the way they approach an all-Bach program. In yesterday afternoon's performance, casual in appearance only, they played with a freshness and vitality often missing from concerts bearing a stodgy "musicologically correct" stamp.
Sonatas and cantata arias alike received sparkling interpretations. The musicians' joy of music-making was apparent in every piece, from the Trio Sonata in C Major, BWV 1037, to the tenor aria "So schnell ein rauschend Wasser schiesst" from Cantata 26. Carroll, whose harpsichord lines lent spirit as well as support to each work, joined Hudson for an exhilarating account of the Sonata in A for Harpsichord and Violin, BWV 1015.
Gordon's light, appealing voice brought out the poetic drama in three Bach settings. In "Woferne du den edlen Frieden" from Cantata 41, he received exceptional support from cellist Contino. "So schnell" featured the entire group, with Gordon sailing gracefully upon a musical current suggesting the sound of onrushing waters.