The Contemporary Music Forum was in one of its more experimental moods last night at the Corcoran, offering a series of textural and temporal explorations from the last two decades. Mixing familiar composers with less-well-known, the program unfolded with notable coherence as each piece offered a different essay on the common theme.
"Memoires d'un Amnesique," written in 1978 by the Northern Virginia composer, Michael Blakesless, provided an imaginative start. Using a provacatively bland text from Satie, Blakeslee created a sense of continuously shifting layers by cleverly manipulating various rhythmic and melodic fragments. Clarinetist Gary Marion, cellist David Premo, pianist Barbro Dahlman and soprano Marilyn DeReggi admirably caught the subtle modulations, though less dramatic facial expression from DeReggi would have heightened the flow.
Under the direction of William Wright, the ensemble -- minus DeReggi and plus percussionist Al Merz -- pursued with delicate precision the sensitive balancing of sounds in Lukas Foss' "Echoi III" of 1963. "Klif," a work also from the '60s by the Icelandic composer Atli Heimir Sveinsson, gave flutist Katherine Hay the opportunity to indulge in intricate conversation with clarinetist Marion and cellist Premo. The evening closed with the British composer Harrison Birtwistle's "Ring a Dumb Carillon," one of his less successful efforts, though forecefully realized by DeReggi, Marion and Merz.