The sculpture court at the Walters Art Museum is one of Baltimore's most inviting spaces. Acoustically, it's a bit of a soup, but who cares in such an ambience?
That point was drive home Sunday evening when An Die Musik Live and the Walters presented the last in this season's series of early music concerts. This one, which drew a spill-over crowd, featured one of the Baltimore Symphony's star players, principal trumpet Andrew Balio, in a bright burst of baroque repertoire.
Some of Balio's colleagues from the orchestra, including concertmaster Jonathan Carney, were in his fine backup band of strings. The excellent harpsichordist Adam Pearl was also in the ensemble. And sharing the spotlight with Balio in part of the program was soprano Nola Richardson.
Balio offered technically and musically gleaming work in an transcription of the great D minor Oboe Concerto usually attributed to Allesandro Marcello, and in a concerto by Torelli (soloist and ensemble were particularly impressive in the fugal rush of the second movement).
Richardson did her most effective singing in Scarlatti's cantata "Su le sponde del Tebro," negotiating the florid lines with clarity (as clear as the acoustics would allow) and vibrancy. She sounded less precise and comfortable in Bach's Cantata No. 51, but bounced back with a pearly "Let the bright Seraphim" from Handel's "Samson" that also had the benefit of Balio's spirited trumpeting.