Two decades ago this month the Newberry Consort was among the first historically informed performing groups in the United States to revive the music of Baroque composer Johann Rosenmuller.

But some artists successful in their own time nonetheless require periodic revival thereafter, and as consort co-director David Douglass said at Friday night’s concert opening the season at Newberry Library, “Rosenmuller is rediscovered every five years.”

The all-Rosenmuller program drew heavily on the group’s 1995 compact disc, presenting five selections from an early dance suite written for students in Leipzig plus four sonatas and four vocal works from his maturity in Venice. The performances, spirited as well as polished, again went far to confirm Douglass’ assertion that Rosenmuller was “one of the greatest Baroque composers you’ve never heard.”

The sonatas for two, three, four and five instruments proved a special pleasure. At their heart is a kind of fugal writing rich in melody. Episodes both dour and lively form a rapidly changing stream of string color marked by many antiphonal effects and dramatic pauses. The fabric achieved particular sumptuousness owing to the sounds of a bass violin, theorbo and the consort’s new Roland Digital Organ, which with unwavering pitch samples an actual German Baroque instrument.

Rosenmuller so liked dramatic pauses that they were already, unusually, present in his early dance music, written for young performers to serenade nobility. The Suite in C Major includes three more dances than the consort presented, and such was the felicity of the others that it would have been nice to hear them. However, the greatest intensity of Rosenmuller’s expression came later, in his Venetian years, and that side of him was better illustrated by sacred vocal music.

Soprano Ellen Hargis’ agility and flawlessly crisp diction made the most of texts in Latin and German. The abrupt shifts of mood in the sonatas were heightened in the Psalm setting “In te, Domine speravi,” included scolding in “Ach, Herr, strasze mich nicht in deinem Zorn” and achieved clear triumph in “Jubilent aethera.”

The program will be repeated 8 p.m. Saturday at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., and 3 p.m. Sunday at Alice Millar Chapel, 1870 Sheridan Road, Evanston; $35-$45; 773-669-7335.

POSTPONED: April Fundraiser

Dear Valued Patrons,
We regret to share that due to concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to postpone our April 19th fundraising event, Ecco la Primavera. We expect to reschedule this event for a weekend between July and September – stay posted! Please know this decision does not reduce the Newberry Consort’s need for your support. Indeed, now more than ever, we hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us not only minimize the losses from this postponement but also contribute to our future events.

If you currently hold a ticket for this event, refunds are available upon request. Otherwise, the cost of your ticket will be applied to the rescheduled event. If you are a current ticket-holder for this event, Consort General Manager Hannah De Priest will be in touch with you directly very soon.
You can always donate to the Newberry Consort online  or via check. Our mailing address is The Newberry Consort, P.O. Box 60212, Chicago, IL, 60660-0212. Please reach out to manager@newberryconsort.org if you have any questions or leave a message at 773-669-7335 and one of our staff will be in touch with you.
We appreciate your understanding and very much look forward to welcoming you to Newberry Consort concerts in the future. Till then, wishing you all good health and safety in these uncertain times.