Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The 20th Century Consort was formed a few years ago with a primary commitment to fostering communication between today's audiences, performers and composers. Its recent designation as the Hirahhorn Museum's resident chamber ensemble has given the group a handsome torum for sounding its message.
Sunday night, in the second of its concerts at the museum, the group played with its usual flair and enthusiasm under its artistic director, Christopher Kendall, who knows how to inject vitality into a performance. Pianist Lambert Orkis did particularly well with the varied demands of Joan Tower's mini-concrete, "Black Topax," a richly textured and witty work written in 1976. The composer was in the audience and acknowledged the warm applause given to the work.
The group also did well by Lukas Foss' "Time Cycle," using the second version, scored for voice and instrumental quartet. Lawrence Widdoes' "Acanthus" for harp and vibraphone was dull music well performed.The young Emerson String Quartet finished off the program with a warm, intense rendition of Bartok's "String Quartet No. 5"
Despite fine performances the evening was not fully satisfying. Programs need to have some kind of internal logic and this one seemed to have none. With no discernible connection between selections, the listener was left with an uncomfortable, disjointed feeling at the end of the concert.