A Faure' cello sonata in the midst of modern percussion music might be considered downright odd, but in the context of the 20th Century Consort's presentation at the Hirshhorn Museum Saturday night, it became a revelation.
The title of the opening work, "Tintinnabulations and Thumps" (1978) by Gerald Chenoweth, is catchy but the piece itself, full of atmospherics and interesting musical ideas, is even better. Pianist Lisa Emmenheiser Logan and percussionist Thomas Jones played with strength and expression, although the quiet ending was marred by some sloppy attacks.
Faure''s Cello Sonata No. 2 (Op. 117) was next. The cello, beautifully played by David Hardy, sang long, sweet melodies. But somehow, following all that drumming, the bashful piano accompaniment (played with grace and style by Catherine Brake) took on a new importance and became a spare and adventurous background to the lyricism of the cello. In 1921 Faure' was no Ives or Schoenberg, but even in his old age he could put a bit of the modern world into his music.
Karl Kohn's Sonatina for Marimba, Four Hands (1977) had some interesting moments and was played by Jones and Albert Merz well enough. But there was none of the dazzle that the titles promised: The Vivace was allegretto, the Presto an allegro moderato.
Barto'k's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, which closed the program, was stunning and full of fire and conviction.