by Stephanie Manning
Whatever piece ACRONYM is playing, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard it before. While the ensemble focuses on Baroque music, it’s not from composers the casual listener might know — instead, the group hones in on less-familiar tunes from the 17th century. Some of these pieces haven’t been heard in the 400 years since they were composed, but ACRONYM makes them sound refreshingly contemporary, bringing them to life in stunning splendor.
The Oberlin Artist Recital Series proved the perfect occasion for the group’s visit to Northeast Ohio on November 15. ACRONYM was founded by Oberlin alumni, and their first public performance in 2014 was held in the same venue: Warner Concert Hall. They hadn’t been back since, making Tuesday’s concert a long-overdue homecoming.
Warner was a fitting choice not just symbolically, but also sonically. The combination of Baroque strings, theorbo, harpsichord, and organ created a nice blend and balance, allowing the opportunity for softer instruments to stand out. In Johann Rosenmüller’s Sonata à 5 in g, Doug Balliett’s violone pizzicatos resonated beautifully, and in Johann Heinrich Schmelzer’s Sonata in d, harpsichordist Elliot Figg became an equal player in the texture with his clever improvisations. The slight exception was Joshua Stauffer on theorbo — despite the instrument’s big physical presence on stage, he received little time in the spotlight. [Read more…]