Music Reviews : California E.A.R. Unit at County Museum of Art

Wednesday night in Bing Theater at the County Museum of Art, the California E.A.R. unit presented a program of six works written in the 1980s, plus a last-minute addition of Stockhausen's "Klavierstuck" IX. With the exception of Gerard Grisey's "Talea" (1986), there were few surprises.

In "Talea," Grisey uses elements of serialism paralleling techniques in the isorhythmic motets of Medieval master Guillaume Machaut. Never bound to its rigid system, the Ligeti-inspired music dances and bobs between moments of high activity and moments of stasis.

The five performers, conducted aptly by Gaylord Mowrey, balanced the sonic subtleties and frenetic phrases with ease and insight.

Arthur Jarvinen's "A Book of Five Rings"(1986) brought together the contrasting influences of Stockhausen's compositional method (using the Fibonacci series) and Frank Zappa's percussion writing. The result, for two pianos and two percussionists, meanders at times, yet is held together by Jarvinen's quirky imagination.

Also by Jarvinen was an arrangement of a short song by Captain Beefheart, "Golden Birdies." Unlike Beefheart's Magic Band, the performers, including Jarvinen, who played bass guitar and recited, performed with reserve.

Flutist Dorothy Stone gave an impressive performance of Brian Ferneyhough's "Superscripto"(1981), a collection of piercing pitch formations for solo piccolo, with occasional tuneful fragments. Jack Vees' "Piece for Composition," a text-piece poking fun at Boulez's essay "Schoenberg est mort," promised much for solo performer Amy Knoles, but suffered from a paucity of ideas and humor.

An exuberant performance of Robert Moran's idiomatic instrumentation of Philip Glass' "Modern Love Waltz" opened the evening.

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