Ernst Krenek's most recent work, Opus 237 for the 87-year-old composer, received its U.S. premiere Tuesday evening. His String Trio, "In Twelve Stations," was the centerpiece of an intriguing program, courtesy of the Southwest Chamber Music Society, in the acoustically and visually attractive Wright Auditorium at the Pasadena Library.
Krenek began the work at 12 different points, hence the title. As might be expected, it is an episodic effort but not waywardly so, running its varied course in 19 compelling minutes.
The trio is staunchly atonal, though only intermittently serial. It is also a remarkably attractive piece, warm and sassy in a timbral coat of many colors.
Violinist Kimiyo Takeya, violist Jan Karlin and cellist Erika Duke--a.k.a. the California Trio--treated it with obvious affection. They were willing to go to occasionally uncontrolled extremes in service of Krenek's expressive, highly spiced scoring. They proved alert and responsive to each other and the music in most matters of phrasing and articulation.