The 20th Century Consort saluted the 10th anniversary of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Saturday afternoon performing works by Luciano Berio, Robert Hall Lewis, Francis Poulenc, Dmitri Shostakovich and Lukas Foss. The program's unifying theme was the passage of time, as articulated through the individual perspectives of the composers. If the Consort intended to bend, shape or distort time as a byproduct of its musicianship, it succeeded, but not always admirably.
Cases in point: the performances of Lewis' "Combinazioni I," for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, at 12 minutes, or Poulenc's Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, at 15 minutes, seemed endless. Yet the minutes flew by during Berio's "Sequenza I" for solo flute, expertly played by Sara Stern, and Foss' "Time Cycle," a compelling display of musical discipline and ensemble playing by clarinetist Loren Kitt, pianist Lambert Orkis, percussionist Thomas Jones and cellist David Hardy.
Soprano Diana Walker, in her first Washington performance, embellished Foss' "Time Cycle" with her small but dramatic and well-modulated voice. Artistic director Christopher Kendall conducted the consort for "Time Cycle," effectively grafting tricky rhythms, aggressive tempos and complex orchestration to texts by A.E. Housman, Franz Kafka and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Shostakovich's Sonata for Cello and Piano substituted for Gary Smart's "A Brittle Man" in the revised program.