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MUSIC REVIEWS : I MUSICI AT AMBASSADOR AUDITORIUM

Although it is hardly likely that I Musici has survived for 34 years without changes of personnel, the 12 musicians who performed at Ambassador Auditorium on Thursday night sounded precisely as one remembers first hearing them--how long ago?

They are still a model of impeccably adjusted string playing. They constantly come so close to perfection that one is tempted to use that hazardous word with no reservations. They effortlessly and continuously dispense an ensemble minutely microscopic in detail.

The product would be inhuman if the musicians did not take endless care that the individual and collective tone quality is invariably warm and that the necessarily limited range of dynamics never threatens monotony.

That the program was confined to Baroque music seemingly delighted an audience that overflowed into the orchestra pit. The playing enforced all the attributes of Baroque performance while preserving the individuality of the various composers.

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Handel’s Concerto Grosso in F (Opus 6, No. 9) was rugged in spirit, but refined in style. Maria Teresa Garatti played the solo harpsichord in Bach’s Concerto in G minor, actually a transcription of the A minor Violin Concerto, with a faery-like tinkling of silvery tone that could not always be easily heard in spite of the repressive efforts of the strings.

And for sheer delight and wit, Mozart’s Divertimento in B flat, K. 137, which he wrote at age 16, was a marvel of spontaneity.

To Federico Agostino, the concertmaster who has succeeded the now retired Pina Carmirelli, fell the considerable task of playing in succession Vivaldi’s set of four violin concertos known as “Le quattro stagioni” (The Four Seasons).

Agostino lavished the utmost refinement and subtlety on his task. He took the naive descriptions of weather and insects at their musical rather than their programmatic value, with a small but shining tone, and with virtuosic ease and facility. His colleagues accompanied him flawlessly and the result was both definitive and entertaining.

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