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MUSIC REVIEW

Visiting Ensemble Shows Depth of Its Virtuosity

May 21, 1997|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

Jacob Druckman's sextet, "Come Round," in a thoroughly engaging, emotionally realized performance by players of the New York New Music Ensemble--including two guests--closed the program at Monday Evening Concerts this week. What came before was also nicely accomplished, if less compelling.

"Come Round" uses its instrumentalists fully, demanding well-honed, virtuosic skills of each soloist and a group-think that comes to life only through serious rehearsal. The ensemble, regular visitors to Bing Theater at the L.A. County Museum of Art, met the composer's challenges and illuminated this score; the six musicians were conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky.

The ensemble also offered another ear-opener in the second half of the concert, Melinda Wagner's attractive and intriguing quartet for clarinet, cello, piano and percussion, "Wing and a Prayer," an abstract but highly charged conversation among instruments. A false start occasioned by a technical glitch ultimately profited the re-begun performance.

The first half of the evening was devoted to pleasant warming up. Least fascinating: Mario Davidovsky's uninspired and cliche-ridden rerun of 1950s modernism, "Flashbacks" (1996). Most charming: Two brief solo piano pieces by Charles Wuorinen, played by James Winn. Most amusing: Donald Martino's inventive "Three Birthday Cards" for solo clarinet, with extensions, performed by Jean Kopperud. Most promising: David Liptak's nine-minute sextet, "Giovine Vagha," a bright and active piece of varying moods and tempos.

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