Good music, like fine wine, improves with age; it's almost as if the accretion of centuries of appreciation imparts a rare essence to be released during particularly inspired performances. Such was the case in the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble's performance, with Baroque instruments, at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater Saturday evening.
There were moments of slightly ragged attack in the overture of, Telemann's "Don Quixote" Suite, which opened the program, but the group quickly attained a balanced, crisp ensemble sound that marked the rest of the concert. It took a particularly hushed approach to the second movement, "Don Quixote's Awakening," and then flew into an energetic depiction of "The Attack on the Windmills." Nils-Erik Sparf played the demanding first-violin part with flair, shaping phrases with a lustrous tone and giving careful attention to dynamic nuances.
Clas Phersson's stream of clear runs was almost flawless in Sammartini's Concerto in F for Descant Recorder and Strings. Phersson's recorder sliced through the richly textured strings and Maria Wieslander's crystalline harpsichord parts. The recorder took center stage, wafting over an unobtrusive accompaniment, in the lyric "Siciliano" movement.
Wieslander and cellist Kari Ottensen accompanied countertenor Andrew Dalton in a selection of songs by Purcell. Dalton's control was apparent throughout, and intonation was flawless. His performance in the first song, the compelling "Music for a While," was somewhat subdued, but he sang with more power on the other songs, and later, when joined by the full ensemble in arias by Handel.
The program included Mozart's Divertimento for Strings in F Major, K. 138, and Johan Helmich Roman's vibrant suite from the "Drottningholms -- Musiquen."