That the music, the performances and the program of a concert are interrelated is no surprise to anyone. Indeed, sometimes it is hard to remember that these very distinct aspects of every concert and that they make their own separate impressions.
This was particularly the case with the concert given by the Theater Chamber Players of Kennedy Center in the Terrace Theater yesterday.
The music, in true TCP tradition, was a sampling of the new and the traditional. Arigo's three-part madrigal "Crudele acerbo e dispietato core," written in 1974, captures the essence of the high Italian Renaissance in contemporary terms. Del Tredici's "Night Conjure-Verse" for two sopranos and a clutch of strings and winds, is high tension drama in chamber guise, as is Schoenberg's tragic Second String Quartet for strings and soprano. On the other end of the spectrum were a set of Brahms vocal duets and the Haydn String Quartet Opus 20 No.2.
All of this music is enthralling in its own way.
The performances, however, had their ups and downs. The Schoenberg was a highlight, with the Washington Quartet and soprano Phyllis Byrn-Julson totally commited to the music's poetry. The Del Tredici also was excitingly done. It has gained in spontaneity since its first outing at these concerts in February. The Brahms, however, needed much more piano presence. Furthermore, baritone Richard Frisch was no match, vocally, for mezzo Rose Taylor. And, finally, the haydn, generally in good form, had some bad moments in the Minuet.
As a program, the whole thing was too long. Beautiful as the Brahms pieces are, the program would have been better without them. The Schoenberg filled the romantic slot admirably, and the Haydn, like a cool shower, gave a fresh sense of perspective to the rest. The Brahms belonged to some other program.