Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Theater Chamber Players, closing their season Monday night at the Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium, demonstrated again a knack for which they have become well-known: finding music that is relatively seldom heard and well worth hearing and mixing tough, substantial works that are the classical version of easy listening.
Several flavors were mingled in the program, from the baroque to the atonal, with a bit of neo-classicism from Manuel de Falla and a charming, light-as-a-feather quintet by Luigi Boccherini in between. Two of the pieces were vocal, three instrumental, all interesting in one way or another and well performed.
The two ultra-rarities on the program were both modern, atonal and vocal: the moody "The Sentences" for soprano and guitar by Barbara Kolb and the expertly crafted "Leopardi Fragments: A Cantata" by Peter Maxwell Davies, a leading member of the British avant-garde. For those who have been fascinated by the formal intricacies and curious psychological overtones of some of Davies' later work, this 1961 composition may sound like apprentice work, but it is the work of a most-gifted apprentice and interesting in its own right. Soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson and mezzo Rose Taylor blended their voices skillfully in this music.
Pina Carmirelli played a Bach unaccompanied partita with her usual panache, and a small ensemble gave a properly sec reading of Falla's Harpsichord Concerto. In Boccherini's Quintet in D, guitarist David Starobin (discreetly amplified?) balanced well with a string quartet and showed a polished fluent technique.