The most consistently enterprising source for modern, cutting-edge classical music in our area is the University at Buffalo music department's June In Buffalo series, although the eclectic programming at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center occasionally steps up to the plate, too.
Now it would appear, solely on the basis of one concert, that the "A Musical Feast" series, held in D'Youville College's Kavinoky Theatre under the guidance of Charles Hauptman, former Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra concertmaster, may have stepped up for a swing or two.
Perhaps having David Felder, the current guiding hand behind the June In Buffalo concerts, on the board of directors for "A Musical Feast" might have something to do with Tuesday night's menu.
In any event, the results were a feast of arresting scores by interesting 20th century composers, including Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, Toru Takemitsu, Thea Musgrave, Mieczyslaw Weinberg and Zoltan Kodaly.
Tom Kolor began the first half of the concert with "Rebonds (a)" and, after the intermission, with "Rebonds (b)," a pair of works by Xenakis for solo percussion. This brace of polyrhythmic attention-getters showcase a stripped-down version of the composer's fascination with complex metronomic textures. "Rebonds (a)," for instance, gradually builds up speed before terminating in a series of false endings. Kolor's mastery of the various instruments at his command was impressive.
Flutist Cheryl Gobbetti-Hoffman was featured in another solo work, Takemitsu's "Voice," a demanding score that calls upon the performer to use advanced playing techniques along with a few well-placed vocal exhortations. Gobbetti-Hoffman was certainly up to the challenges posed by the piece.
Her talents were less in evidence in Cage's "Music for Three," where she was joined by Kolor and the superb soprano vocalist Tony Arnold. The piece is almost more about space itself than about how sound fills space. The discipline of the music didn't necessarily show off the musicians as much as it led the performers from pause to pause.
Charles Castelman performed Weinberg's Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin (Op. 95), a work of considerable difficulties for the violinist and the listener alike. It was an intensely personal piece that sounded as if it were well-played, but, despite the visceral quality that Castelman invested in his playing of the score, the results were only mildly interesting.
Arnold and Gobbetti-Hoffman then returned to the stage for Musgrave's short (but sweet) song for flute and soprano, "Primavera."
After the intermission and Kolor's performance of "Rebonds (b)," Haupt was joined on stage by cellist Feng Hew for a performance of Kodaly's Duo for Violin and Cello (Op. 7), an intense work that was probably the most outwardly accessible work on the program.
"A Musical Feast"
Tuesday night in Kavinoky Theatre.