This week's pair of concerts by the Theater Chamber Players at the Terrace Theater offered a fascinating contrast. Part 1 of the program presented two contemporary Hungarian composers, Gyo rgy Kurta'g and Zsolt Durko', Part 2 that sometime Hungarian, Johannes Brahms.
The Kurta'g piece, called "S.K. Remembrance Noise" (1975), for soprano and violin, is Dada moved forward to the minimal concept -- spare, dry, a little comic and dated. The voice intones short phrases; the violin provides continuity and sound effects. Performed twice, in English and in the original Hungarian, the piece gained vigor for the latter playing. It was performed well by singer Jeannette Walters and violinist Pina Carmirelli, who gave the piece more attention than it perhaps deserved.
The two works by Durko', String Quartet No. 1 (1966) and "Collo ides" (1968), must be taken seriously. Both arise from musical material; both are well constructed. The quartet, however, fails rhythmically, as does so much contemporary music. Tonal organization is a good thing, but not by itself.
"Collo ides," cut from the same stuff, moves as a whole. The material is cohesive; the listener has contact through the presence of a solo flute in a busy ensemble of five strings, two reeds and five voices used as instruments. The physical presence of a conductor adds to the piece's drive and pulse, but one suspects that its mission could be achieved with greater economy.
The trouble with the Brahms String Sextet, Op. 36, on the program is that it is a masterpiece. It is high art -- so much so that the consummate craft never obscures the harmonic beauty, the song or the lilt.
The players were fine and artful, especially in the Brahms. Leon Fleisher merits special thanks for making new music so accessible to the listener.