I used to regularly attend the Sunday concerts at the National Gallery of Art. Usually they were some small group – a quartet or a duo (piano and voice; flute and guitar; harpsichord and violin; etc) – playing a mixture of older classics and some modern composers or off the beaten track.

This one was lured me in because it mentioned Marais, who was a great seventeenth and eighteenth century composer for the viol de gamba. But though they played a piece by Marais (and it was, of course, fantastic), they mostly played Scottish and northern European pieces and the combination was… eclectic. Frankly, I unsatisfied. I didn’t cohere for me. The mixture of Shetland reels, Greensleeves, and French composers from the Baroque was like a poorly curated exhibit, especially because little effort was made to explain to us (the audience) how the pieces made up a single program, beyond the simply fact of just being played together.

On the other hand, they have a nice exhibit of El Greco paintings. Mostly, they are paintings from the National Gallery’s permanent collection and some paintings from nearby museums (Dumbarton Oaks in DC and the Walter in Baltimore). Nothing spectacular, curation wise, but it’s just nice to see a bunch in one place.

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