Res MusicAmerica likes to think of itself as a musical smorgasbord. And so it is. This new music organization, formerly known as Res Musica, sponsors concerts where one is as likely to hear a rag for piano as a piece for electric cello and computer tape.
The problem with smorgasbords (and yesterday's Res MusicAmerica's concert at the Baltimore Museum was no exception) is that they tend to leave one with indigestion -- in this case of the audio-acoustic variety.
The least interesting piece on yesterday's varied program -- all of the pieces were either world premieres or local premieres -- was Brian Bevelander's Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano. An excellent performance by saxophonist Christopher Ford and pianist Eric Conway could not disguise the fact that the Sonata was third-rate neoclassicism falsely seasoned by a dollop of dissonance.
Easier on the ear -- so light, in fact, to be mindless -- was Ronald Mutchnik's "The Loden Suite," which was played by violinist Jose Cueto, cellist Daniel Malkin, clarinetist Robert DiLutis and pianist Conway. The concluding movement of this suite is a rag that is an unconcealed homage to Bernstein's "Officer Krupke" in "West Side Story." The central movement -- for piano solo -- was the sort of cocktail music one hears at an hour so late that the unappealing blonde at the other side of a badly lit bar has begun to look like Kim Basinger.
Much better music -- albeit also syrupy -- was to be heard in Elam Ray Sprenkle's "An Untitled Waltz," which was performed by violinist Cueto, cellist Malkin, clarinetist DiLutis, violist Jennifer Rende and flutist Sara Landgren. To say that Sprenkle's piece would sound great in an Alan Alda movie is to make fun of it -- it kept threatening to turn into the Pachelbel Canon -- but also to remark that it was professionally put together. It was nice music with a good tune.
Two other interesting pieces were for electric cello -- SaraHopkins' "Cello Chi for a Singing Cellist" and Jason Lautar's "An Allegheny Excursion for solo electric cello," which were performed by Jeffrey Kreiger. The first of these used the instrument's open strings and Tibetan chanting techniques to suggest the sort of music that might have been written by an ultra-hip, chilled-out Aaron Copland in his populist phase.
The program was filled out by two less intriguing pieces -"Largo" for trumpet and piano and "Capriccio" for bassoon and piano -- by Robert Macht.