Theater Chamber Players of Kennedy Center helped to celebrate Bela Bartok's 100th Birthday with an imaginative program at the Terrace Theater yesterday evening. In addition to works by the Hungarian master, there was music by two of his countrymen, Zoltan Kodaly (who will come in for his own centenary salute next year) and the still very active Zsolt Durko.
The concert's high point was a performance of Bartok's "Out of Doors" suite by pianist Peter Takacs. His admirable technical skills and unusually keen feeling for the composer's expressionistic helped him recreate each image in the piece, from the percussive dash of "with drums and pipes" to the eerie trembling of "night music."
Takacs brought a similar level of execution and interpretation to the Sonata for two pianos and percussion, one of the most popular works in the Bartok repertoire. Unfortunately, where he seemed literally charged by the score, fellow pianist Dina Koston often lacked the kind of spark that was needed, especially in the finale. Albert Merz and Kenneth Harbison handled the percussion side of things quite admirably.
Soprano Jeannette Walters started the program with a sensitive, if vocally inconsistent, account of four Hungarian folk songs arranged by Kodaly. Durko's "Iconography No. 2 (1971)" was given a polished reading by horn soloist Robert Sheridan and a small chamber ensemble.