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Baroque concert swallowed up by Basilica

Baltimore's lovingly restored Basilica looks like a great place for a concert. Too bad it doesn't sound like one.

The reverberation, up to four seconds by my unscientific count, is just too great to allow for clarity; the music can't help but turn mushy. That's particularly problematic for baroque repertoire, with its complicated contrapuntal lines. None of this stops the indefatigable presenter Henry Wong of An die Musik Live. On Sunday night, his "Barqoue at the Basilica" series offered top-notch musicians from France (the French Embassy was a co-presenter) in an attractive program performed on period instruments.

I stayed for the first half. Although a lot of the effort was swallowed up in the acoustics, it was still possible to savor violinist Patrick Bismuth's technical elan, especially in a Corelli sonata, and the vivid playing of the ensemble called La Tempesta. I also admired harpsichordist Helene Dufour's assured, colorful, rhyhmically alive solo turn in some pieces by Antoine Forqueray.

The series continues Dec. 13 with a Christmas program by the delectable Baltimore Consort.


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