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Review: Aulos Ensemble lively and robust

Review: Aulos Ensemble lively and robust

Performs in 68th season of the Friends of Chamber Music
Review: Aulos Ensemble lively and robust
The Aulos Ensemble
Photographer: Photo provided

TROY — The refined, dulcet tones of the Aulos Ensemble, a period music group, delighted a large crowd Sunday afternoon at Emma Willard’s Kiggins Hall as part of the 68th season of the Friends of Chamber Music.

Founded in 1973 by baroque oboist Marc Schachman and baroque violinist Linda Quan with baroque cellist Myron Lutzke joining the next year, the group now includes baroque flutist Christopher Krueger and harpsichordist Arthur Haas. In all, they’ve been playing together for more than 20 years. Their sensitivity to each other’s playing was evident from the start.

They began with seven selections from one of Henry Purcell’s (1659-1695) biggest hits: “The Fairy Queen” (1692). Lively tempos, lilting melodies, bouncy rhythms all done with robust energy permeated the selections. Krueger, who played recorder, and Schachman shared delicate and interesting lines while Lutzke occasionally had a solo obligato. Balances were strong and the sounds were mellow.

Krueger then opted to play his wooden flute for the rest of the concert, which Martin Wenner built based on a 1720 Oberlender of Nuremburg instrument. It produced a sweet but muffled tone.

Three of Handel’s (1685-1759) efforts were in solid Baroque style. In his “Concerto a Quattro in D minor,” Krueger showed off his fancy fingerwork in the fast sections often trading passages with Quan to make for catchy exchanges. Neither used any vibrato.
Schachman shone in Handel’s “Trio Sonata in G minor” (1730) with wonderfully fluid and finished phrases.  In Chaconne from “Terpsicore” (1734), which Handel wrote for a dance troupe, everyone’s playing sparkled.

Francois Couperin (1668-1733), King Louis XIV’s supervisor of chamber music, wrote the pretty melodies and virtuosic technical passages suitable for his majesty’s intimate salons. In seven selections from his “Third Concert Royal,” Krueger or Schachman was featured. Both showed off brilliant techniques and extravagant ornamentations with lots of trills.  One of the tunes was almost like a Scottish dance and one explored a minor key.

More interactive parts were featured in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s (1683-1764) Suite from his “Les Fetes d’Hebe” opera. Robust tempos, a higher range for the oboe, pedal tones from the continuo, adventurous harmony, and a declamatory fanfare for an Air dedicated to Mars made for interesting listening. It all ended with a loud unison trill, which brought accolades and enthusiastic clapping.

The next concert on the series is Feb. 3 with the Calidore String Quartet.

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