Unaccompanied song, pieces by women composers and 12th-century music are all uncommon recital fare, but soprano Sharon Shafer managed to bring all three together in her performance last week at the Friday Morning Music Club. She also performed a group of songs in the medieval manner by Virgil Thomson, and her own adroit settings of poems by Natasha Josefowitz. Shafer's light vocal color and her knowledge of chant performance practice made her interpretations both engaging and authoritative. One can imagine her voice gently filling the vault of a reverberant cathedral.
Flutist Virginia Nanzetta and pianist Eva Pierrou-Varga offered Prokofiev's Sonata in D, a work with an alternately lyrical and impish nature. As in the composer's "Classical" Symphony, there is a duality between the Mozart-era formal structure and the piquant modern harmonies. The players conveyed these qualities effectively, and made the most of virtuosic moments such as the delirious tumble of notes at the end of the scherzo.
The program began with pianist Marilyn Mangold Garst performing Schubert's "Wanderer Fantasie." Here, the composer eschews the conventional sonata structure in place of a more organic flow of ideas. Schubert maintains such a rarefied level of expression that his "wandering" thoughts are really as integrated and profound as his utterances in conventional form. Garst achieved the elusive task of clarifying the work's thematic unity, but her occasional moments of technical insecurity were at odds with the assertive character of the music.