Webern's "Funf geistliche Lieder" came like a breath of fresh air after the insistent singlemindednesses of Matsudaira and Wolpe at yesterday's Theater Chamber Players concert.
The wobbling soprano lines of Matsudaire's "Roei: Jisei" on vowels rarely relieved by consonants, accompanied by the whip and discrete peeps from a clutch of other instruments, seemed pointless. The endless succession of four- and six-note phrases of Wolpe's "Piece in Two Parts" for violin that, like a dog worrying a bone, never seemed to get anywhere, was just dull. And together, in the dim purples of the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, they were soporific.
This is in no way a reflection on the performances of either soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson or violinist Pina Carmirelli, both of whom performed with graceful ease and far more dedication than the music deserved.
But what a pleasure, at last, to encounter some incisive ideas. The Webern Lieder, scored for soprano with flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin and harp are concise without seeming constrained, pointed without being sharp, and beautifully balanced and conceived. Above all, they are interesting and satisfying. Byrn-Julson's singing was a model of musicianly accuracy and warmth.
A Telemann concerto for four violins, Webern's "Konzert" and the Brahms Clarinet Quintet filled out the rest of the program.
Acoustically, the Terrace Theater is far more sympathetic to the dry transparencies of Webern than to the generous ardor of Brahms, which, yesterday, was projected as careful and muted.
The program will be repeated this evening.