Among the many gifts of the Contemporary Music Forum is a penchant for playing the most daring repertory, not as new music, but simply as music, alive and thrilling. Its concerts avoid the air of respectful dullness that wafts over so many specialized ensembles. Last night's program at the Corcoran, typically, was one of great music making.
There were two world premieres, "Barbaglio dal manca" by Jeffrey Mumford and "In Praise of Magic" by Anthony Stark. Mumford's "Barbaglio" for solo piano was well served by the stunning virtuosity of Barbro Dahlman. Based almost entirely on three three-note chords forming a nine-note scale, the score hides its organization with Bergian mastery. It is a big, rambunctious piece, sweeping in its textures and capricious in its beat.
"In Praise of Magic: A Nighttime Fantasia" is, the composer tells us, about "that special ambience of night that occasionally makes people a little crazy, particularly when we're in love." It was created especially for the CMF, and it is splendid. Stark's textures caress and tease to a vocal climax and then close with whispers and whistles unto moonlit serenity. Under William Wright's direction was soprano Marilyn Boyd DeReggi, with violinist Helmut Braunlich, flutist Katherine Hay, Randall Eyles at the gong and drums and Dahlman at the piano.
Thomas Albert's 1975 "Winter Monarch" and "Lullaby" for soprano, flute and piano found DeReggi in gorgeous voice, with almost shocking strength in the chest and seamless traveling between registers. Hay's flute sang and flew like a pitchless wind. The concert also included a trendy "Capriccio" for flute and piano by Wayne Peterson, and something called "Torse III" for solo marimba by Akaira Miyoshi.