he announcement of this concert at St. James Place came as a very pleasant surprise. There’s no need to wait until June to hear an Aston Magna Concert! And that is certainly a event much-anticipated among early music lovers and Berkshire residents. Aston Magna regulars, Daniel Stepner, baroque violin, Laura Jeppesen, viola da gamba, Peter Sykes, harpsichord, and Andrea LeBlanc, baroque flute, will play excerpts from a central work by J. S. Bach, A Musical Offering, covering the basic styles of composition contained within it: canons, a fugue (ricercare), and a trio sonata, as well as sonatas—respectively for viola da gamba and violin, flute, and violin—by Buxtehude, Handel, and C. P. E. Bach. The selection from the Offering is especially sympathetic to the other works on the program, with the simpler ricercare (the one Bach was able to improvise on the spot, when Frederick the Great presented him with his theme and the challenge to write a fugue on it) and the Trio Sonata.
Nothing in recent Berkshire performance memory could have prepared me for the extraordinary elegance of today’s recital with renowned gambist Wieland Kuijken, recorder virtuoso Eva Legêne, and harpsichordist Arthur Hass. Mr Kuijken, if you don’t know already, is a member of the renowned Belgian family of period musicians that includes violinist/conductor Sigiswald and flautist Barthold. Dutch-born Eva Legêne, a student of Frans Brüggen, was formally a professor of music at Indiana University and the Royal Danish Academy, and now lives and gives master classes in Germany. Arthur Haas, a student of Alan Curtis and Kenneth Gilbert, performs widely in Europe and teaches at Berkeley, Amherst, the Eastman School, and Stanford.