A melange of color, texture and rhythm, last night's contemporary chamber music concert at the Terrace Theater was a true study in contrasts.
The Contemporary Chamber Music Ensemble opened the concert with Conrad Cummings' "Bone Songs for Clarinet, Trumpet and Double Bass." A Pointillistic piece, the "Bone Songs" exploited the sonorities of each instrument by extreme and rapid changes in register. The third movement was more melodic and continuous than the first two. Here, the difficult contrapuntal lines of the clarinet were particularly well done.
Truly an innovative work, Jacob Druckman's "Valentine for Solo Double Bass" calls for the complete portrayal of a performer's seduction of his double bass. Bassist Donald Palma began the piece by hitting the sounding board of his instrument with a felt mallet.
Then he alternately hit and bowed the strings. His performance was interspersed with stage whispers about dynamic changes and was accompanied throughout by his rhythmic swaying with the instrument Little was left to the imagination in this unique musical drama.
Bela Bartok's "Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet and Piano" was reminiscent of Hungarian folk melodies. With stark juxtapositions of different textures, tempos and dynamics, the piece conveys a melodic and melancholy mood. The performers never left the momentum of the piece lag; their control and interpretation were admirable.
Closing the concert was Stravinsky's well-known "Histoire du soldat" suite, probably the most conventionally organized piece of the evening. Sprinkled with jazz idioms, "Histoire" combines marches, dance tunes and a chorale to create a nauntingly tonal composition clearly tinged with chromaticism. The ensemble gave this piece a lively interpretation, maintaining well the direction and momentum of the work.