The art of the harpsichordist is a subtle one, as Peter Marshall ably demonstrated in concert at Catholic University's Ward Hall yesterday afternoon. With an instrument incapable of producing wide dynamics, Marshall created his musical world from delicate slivers of sound, finely engineered ornamentation and a belief that, given time, the audience would attune its ears to his instrument's finesse.
People didn't need much convincing. From the feathered trills of the J.S. Bach Concerto in D, Op. 3, No. 7, modeled after Vivaldi, to the complex counterpoint of Bach's "Ouverture nach franzosischer Art," BWV 831, Marshall drew his attentive audience into a world of subtle color and hue with wit and seamless grace.
Bach's chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903, and Concerto in the Italian Style, BWV 971, composed the second half of the program and both were played flawlessly. While one might have hoped for a little more gusto in the concerto's Allegro, Marshall's faultless phrasing in the Fantasy and clean lines in the Fugue were masterly.
At the concert's end, the ever-and-gracious Marshall took three bows for himself and with a sweep of his hand, took one more for the harpsichord -- an excellent double manual, Saxon-style model -- and its maker Michael O'Brien.