The composer of "Loves" was incorrectly identified in yesterday's review of the Contemporary Music Forum. He is Lawrence Moss.
It's not that Howard Moss has begun writing tunes; he has always been a melodious composer, but in some of his earlier works the melodies were woven so tightly together that their contours were not easy to see on short acquaintance. In his "Loves," which had its East Coast premiere last night in the Corcoran Gallery, the melodies are given more breathing space and their distinctive colors are enhanced by the varied voices of flute, clarinet, viola, piano and harp.
The instruments weave sonic garlands around the essentially declamatory lines of the soprano, who intones poems of Catullus in the composer's own elegant translation from the Latin. It is an effective work, rich in emotional communication, and it was beautifully performed last night by the Contemporary Music Forum.
"Loves" was one highlight of a program featuring works of five composers in several styles. The music ranged from the elaborately coloristic and tightly organized "Sextet" of Wayne Peterson to the multi-faceted sounds evoked in Frances McKay's rhapsodic "Pegasus" for unaccompanied flute. This is a highly suggestive work--lyric, dramatic, sometimes descriptive--which presents the flying horse of Greek mythology in a variety of modes. Mostly, it exercises the flute's gift for simple song, but sometimes it calls for special effects, including the production of more than one note at a time or the sound of wind in vast, open spaces.
Akira Yuyama's "Divertimento" for marimba and alto saxophone blended slightly old-fashioned American jazz sounds effectively with those of Japanese traditional music, and Ann Silsbee's "Trialogue," first heard here last season, seemed even more effective in this year's performance. Essentially a discussion of styles among clarinet, violin and piano, it makes each instrument a sort of character in a rather abstract but absorbing drama.