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Music Review : Debussy Trio Thrills With Enthusiasm

November 12, 1994|TIMOTHY MANGAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

COSTA MESA — It has taken some doing, but the Debussy Trio has managed to make the ensemble of flute, harp and viola--a wedding reception combination if there ever was one--seem avant-garde.

In a program worthy of such progressive groups as the Kronos and Arditti quartets, and performed as compellingly, the trio--Marcia Dickstein, harp; Angela Wiegand, flute, and Keith Greene, viola--appeared Thursday in Founders Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

New music should always be like this--played not as a duty, but with the enthusiasm, precision, fluency and sense of adventure these performers brought to the task.

Four contemporary pieces, including the world premiere of a work commissioned by the trio, were anchored on this occasion by the Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp by the group's namesake, in an interpretation remarkable for its vibrant textures and silken execution.

Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina's "Garten von Freuden und Traurigkeiten" (in its 1993 revision) proved the perfect companion piece, hovering mournfully in the still air: a spare flute solo insistently echoed by a soft, downward slide on a harp string; the viola, in high harmonics, considering and reconsidering a distant, bugle-like motif. Occasionally rising to shimmering activity, the music quickly falls back into trance-like rumination. A German poem is read at the end.

*

The concert concluded with the premiere of Lyle Mays' "Twleve Days in the Shadow of a Miracle," which he wrote for this trio and incorporating taped accompaniment. Alternately spacey and spacious, urgent and driving, this eclectic, accessible score reflects Mays' background in jazz and fusion and effectively integrates live and taped action. An enjoyable ride.

Ian Krouse's "Dos Canciones Insolitas" (two sultry Spanish songs) with soprano Susan Alexander and Jan Bach's fluid, evocative and engaging "Eisteddfod, Variations and Penillion on a Welsh Harp Tune" rounded out this fascinating concert.

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