The concert of Mexican music given by the National Musical Arts Saturday at the National Academy of Sciences points up one of Washington's happiest musical perks. Whatever other woes our capital status confers, we certainly do get to hear a large supply of new and unfamiliar works from other countries. And when the pieces are as outstanding as Saturday evening's selections by five composers associated with Mexico City, the pleasure of discovery is as great as the fun of listening.
Twentieth-century works opened the chamber concert, which was presented by the academy with the help of the Mexican Embassy. Silvestre Revueltas's "Tres Piezas," for violin and piano, is a compact sonata-like work with astringent outer movements and a warm folk tune setting in the middle. Paul Kantor, violin, and Patricia Gray, piano, gave the music a strong, sharp-edged reading, drawing a particularly fine tone in the folk section.
Gray, the ensemble's director, also held the fort in Manuel Enriquez's "Tzicuri," a spiritual avant-garde work for violin, cello, trombone and piano, requiring pounding around inside of the piano and lots of unlikely effects from the other instruments as well. What holds the work together is a vital, winning rhythmic drive, well presented in strong ensemble playing.
Other works, a hypnotic piece for string quartet by Mario Lavista, an 18th-century baroque soprano aria by Manuel Zumaya and Carlos Chavez's Suite for Double Quartet, also received fine performances. Particularly noteworthy were oboist Rudolf Vrbsky's eloquent and melodic solos that opened and closed the Chavez.