In a thoroughly mixed bag of chamber music Saturday night at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, there was something to please everyone. Soprano Lucy Shelton was the common thread of the evening's performances as she was joined by pianist Lambert Orkis, guitarist Eliot Fisk and David Jolley on French horn for 19th- and 20th-century works.
The opening group of Tchaikovsky songs, ranging from some Op. 6, his first published set, to the late works, seemed a trifle cool and reserved. While the music is characterized by a gentle simplicity, Shelton's interpretation could have benefited from more flexibility.
Two contemporary works, Britten's handsome and airy "Songs From the Chinese" (with guitar accompaniment) and Bruce Adolphe's "Ladino Songs of Love and Suffering" (with guitar and horn accompaniment) showed Shelton, Fisk and Jolley at their agile best. A Washington premiere, the Adolphe songs combined the three diverse sounds into interesting, transparent colors and textures without resorting to trite "Spanish" devices.
Fisk's own transcription of Bach's Chaconne for unaccompanied violin from the Partita No. 2 in D Minor captured the composer's perfect polyphonic writing and successfully enhanced the instrument's solo capabilities. Fisk's playing was smooth and deftly articulated.
Schubert's "Auf dem Strom," for voice, horn and piano, was alive with vibrant color and grand emsemble technique. Shelton seemed comfortable in all the registers. A mirthful encore of Stephen Foster's "Some Folks" -- with all four on stage -- capped off the Schubert in high style.