PhilanthropistDavid Lloyd Kreeger, always interested in the arts and their efforts to stay afloat in an increasingly indifferent society, has come through again. Yesterday afternoon in Ward Recital Hall at Catholic University, the first- and second-place winners of the David Lloyd Kreeger Creativity Awards in Chamber Music were awarded their prizes and had their works premiered.
Second-place winner Maurice Saylor's String Quartet in D is a wonderfully absorbing piece, full of contrasting ideas. The sustained phrases, angular motifs, swirling figures, glissandi and other special effects were played with astounding virtuosity by the Eakins Quartet. Especially fascinating was the second movement in which Saylor uses long arching passages to build to a climax of luxuriance.
In contrast, the song cycle "Songs to the Beat of a Drum" for tenor and piano quintet by Brother Joseph Santo, which was first-place winner, was a confusing work. The texts, derived from anonymously written Neapolitan poems, are essentially lighthearted affairs. Santo, however, chose to set the poems to music that was disturbingly angry and depressing, as if trying to obviate the songs' licentiousness. One had to assume that Michael Snyder intoned his difficult part accurately, but his nasal vocal quality wore thin.
The concert closed with an excellent performance of the String Quartet No. 3 by Quincy Porter. Although they played with abandon, the performers could not eliminate a sense of disappointment because of music that was, at times, emotionally ungratifying.