From the June 10, 2012 review in chicagoclassicalmusic.org by Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot
Hearing a well-executed performance of Baroque instrumental music is like being presented with a basket of perfectly blush, crisp, apples: plentiful sweet sounds articulated with a snap, like sharp lead breaking on paper. Garry Clarke (Artistic Director) and his crack team of musicians—Baroque Band—offered such a gift to the City of Chicago in three concerts. . . .
This was my first opportunity to hear the ensemble in a live performance of purely instrumental repertoire. I was familiar with them previously through recording (their absolutely outstanding CD of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Mensa Sonora and Battalia), and their turn as the pit orchestra for Chicago Opera Theater’s recent performance of Teseo. Here’s what you need to know about Baroque Band: they are immensely talented, vastly imaginative, and genuinely fun. How refreshing to show up at a concert and take note that many members in the audience were wearing jaunty hats and fascinators in honor of the concert’s theme, Mad Hatter’s Musical Tea Party, which concluded their 2011-2012 Adventures Through the Looking Glass season. The orchestra, too, were outfitted properly with toppers of all shapes and sizes (doffing them for performance ease once it was time for the music to commence). Clarke gave a charming greeting and introduction that only served to enhance the overwhelmingly inviting and warm atmosphere. Ensemble and audience were equally engaged and entertained—an all too rare feeling of camaraderie binding stage and audience.
Music by contemporaries Jean-Fery Rebel (1666-1747), George Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), and Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764) filled the program for the night. Predecessor to the symphony of the Classical era was the Baroque suite, an amalgamation of dances introduced by an overture. Bookending the night were works of that genre. Les Elemens (making its entrance via one of the most dissonant moments in music, ancient or modern—the depression of all seven notes of a D minor scale simultaneously) by Jean-Baptiste Lully’s pupil, Rebel, and the Ouverture des Nations anciens et modernes by Telemann constituted the first half of the program, whilst Teleman’s Tafelmusik Suite in E minor TWV 55:e1 concluded the evening. Rounding out the evening were Locatelli’s Trauersymphonie and Handel’s Concerto Grosso op. 6, no. 6. This programming allowed us to appreciate the variety between the French, German, Italian, and English (or at least, English by adoption) styles in interpreting similar structures.
Each piece was performed with aplomb, elegance, flair and considerable skill. . . . Overall, the evening was exceptionally delightful . . . Everyone should make plans to attend all, or at least one, of Baroque Band’s concerts in the upcoming 2012-2013 season.