It's that time of year--when silliness becomes provocative, flirtations feel profound and lightness has weight. It's spring. If mosquitoes are mating, their contributions to our future irritability seem far off.
And it's the perfect time, considering the general mood of benign acceptance, to hear new works. At Monday Evening Concerts' second event in its California series Monday night in Bing Theater at the County Museum of Art, three of the five scheduled pieces received world premiere performances.
As played by the nine-member California E.A.R. Unit, with four guests, these compositions by Arthur Jarvinen, Michael Jon Fink and John Bergamo proved light, innocuous and entertaining.
The most substantial, Jarvinen's "Ivan, Where Are You Running to," is a theater-piece employing silly texts, amplified heartbeats and metal hammers, among other devices. It amuses for 15 minutes. Fink's Trio for flute, violin and celesta, a study in chord changes and wandering melody, savors its status quo for 13 minutes; with its lack of sharp edges, it can hurt no one. Bergamo's "Blanchard Canyon" explores timbres in a field of five cymbals--nice music to daydream by.
More interesting were the non-premieres.
On first hearing, Morton Subotnick's "Parallel Lines" (1978) seems uncharacteristically violent, nervous and frenzied--at least in comparison to earlier Subotnick works also using "ghost" electronics.
Still, it satisfies, on both aural and formal levels. Dorothy Stone was the active and apt piccolo soloist; Rand Steiger conducted the ensemble of eight.
David Ocker's "The Recurrent Obsession" (1983) can mean what the listener chooses. Superficially, it uses four percussionists, two pianists, one cellist and two woodwind-players, who seem to ramble in and out of Latin (e.g., samba, tango) rhythms improvisatorily. Sometimes they sway as they play.
What is the obsession? It could be the swaying or the lack of a conductor or the formal clothes worn by the performers or the unchanging beat or the key of G. . . .
The "California" series, and the 1984-85 Monday Evening series, end next week, when performers from UC San Diego offer music by composers from both ends of the state.