Bach Collegium San Diego Brings Baroque Magic to Barrio Logan’s Border X Brewing

Thanks to the welcoming performance possibilities at Barrio Logan’s Bread & Salt, over the last decade the barrio has become an important destination for experiencing first rate serious music performance of every type. In Bread & Salt’s spacious black-box venue, which is adjacent its extensive art galleries, I have attended everything from fully staged Baroque opera to avant-garde performance art; chamber music of every style, as well as choral ensembles, and even chamber orchestra.

John Lenti with Baroque guitar (center) and the Bach Collegium San Diego [photo (c.) Ricardo Guerrero]

On Friday evening, however, the Bach Collegium San Diego (BCSD) brought a short program of Baroque chamber music to an unexpected Barrio Logan hangout, Border X Brewing on Logan Avenue. The venture proved a smashing success, with the SRO crowd surprisingly attentive to music by Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Friedrich Fasch as they enjoyed their drinks from the bar, which continued to serve during the performance.

The six musicians, led by BCSD Artistic Director Ruben Valenzuela at the harpsichord, opened with Vivaldi’s Concerto for Strings in G Minor, RV 156, but the highlight of this performance was Fasch’s Concerto for Lute and Strings in D Minor, FaWV L:d1, with theorbo virtuoso John Lenti as soloist. Lenti has frequently appeared with BCSD; most recently his spirited musicianship added greatly to last month’s BCSD performances of Handel’s Messiah in English and in Spanish.

An almost exact contemporary of Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Friedrich Fasch composed prolifically in his role as Court Composer of Zerbst in Saxony, but only recently has his instrumental music begun to receive the attention it deserves. This Concerto for Lute opens with a decidedly cheerful Allegro, sparked by Lenti’s suave, deftly articulated thematic volleys. In the center movement Andante, a typically plangent descending bass line beneath buoyant strings supported Lenti’s dulcet solo lines embellished with his understated cadenza at the finale. The last movement, a spirited Un poco allergo in triple time, brought the rousing concerto to a bold, satisfying conclusion. The accomplished string players assisting on period instruments: violinists Janet Strauss and Amy Wang; violist Andrew Waid, and cellist Alex Greenbaum.

This concert by the Bach Collegium San Diego was performed twice on Friday, January 19, 2024. The noontime performance was held at All Souls’ Episcopal Church in San Diego’s Point Loma, and the evening concert attended for this review was presented at Barrio Logan’s Border X Brewing.

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