The theme of the Contemporary Music Forum's program last night was one of tribute to Washington composers, yet there were several variations, judging from the diversity of music heard at the Corcoran Gallery's Armand Hammer Auditorium.
"New music" still has far to go to remove the voodoo curse willed upon it by those who brandish their needles at the thought of anything written after 1900. By today's standards, however, none of the works performed was shocking; in fact, Mark Glick's "Music for Violin, Clarinet and Piano" seemed to draw some of its inspiration from the late 19th century. What all the pieces shared was an apparent willingness of their creators to blend past and present styles freely, without so much as a flinch of the quill.
In the hands of Barbro Dahlman, Ulf Grahn's "For Piano" and "Prelude No. 1" were rich in contrast; an economy of means -- hammered "As," taut rhythms and suspensions in "For Piano" and a terse, more flowing approach for the prelude. Anthony Stark's immediately likable "Serenade: Four Fantasies" for a pair of clarinets was structurally clear-cut and peppered with whimsy. Colorful timbres abounded; "woody" and "reedy" tones were plenteous.
Violinist Helmut Braunlich presented his "Two Nocturnes" with minimal fanfare and maximal impact. A rhapsodic melody in the first movement, interrupted by right- and left-hand pizzicati, gave way to an agitated second section, dispatched with Bartokian fierceness.