NEW YORK NEW MUSIC ENSEMBLE, Dumke Recital Hall, University of Utah, Monday.

One of today's cutting-edge contemporary-music groups, the New York New Music Ensemble has commissioned and performed works by both prominent as well as emerging composers throughout its nearly 30 year existence.

Currently, members of the ensemble are on a multi-city tour of the western United States that includes stops in Salt Lake City and Provo.

On Monday, the group performed in Dumke Recital Hall on the University of Utah. The concert showed unequivocally the ensemble's talent and dedication to new music. The six musicians played with a virtuosity that was amazing for its precision, clarity and, most importantly, its musicality.

For this tour, NYNME regulars Jayn Rosenfeld, flute; Jean Kopperud, clarinet; Linda Quan, violin; and Christopher Finckel, cello, were joined by guests Christopher Oldfather, piano; Tom Kolor, percussion; and guest conductor James Baker.

Of the five works on Monday's concert (the same program played at Brigham Young University on Tuesday), two were by local composers Morris Rosenzweig and Steven Ricks.

Rosenzweig's "Past Light" received its Utah premiere Monday (it was performed for the first time last week when NYNME played it in Los Angeles). Scored for violin, cello, clarinet and piano, Rosenzweig effectively offers these instruments in different combinations, putting them in a different perspective individually and as an ensemble.

"Past Light" is quite intense and driven, although there are moments of quiet reflection, notably in the second movement ("All Together"). The virtuosic playing of the four musicians, under Baker's direction, gave life to the piece and captured its dynamic vitality.

Ricks' "Mild Violence" received its world premiere Monday. The brilliantly orchestrated piece forcefully and creatively exploits the five instruments (flute, clarinet, violin, piano and percussion). The music is relentless in its drive and intensity. It's a vividly written and engrossing piece that has a mesmerizing effect on the listener.

David Felder's "Coleccion Nocturna" for clarinet, piano and tape was also on the program. The tape contains piano and clarinet sounds and occasionally augments, but more frequently contrasts, with the live sounds.

Two former Maurice Abravanel visiting composers at the U. opened and closed the concert.

Mario Davidovsky's stunning "Flashbacks" opened the program. Written for flute, clarinet, violin, piano and percussion, the piece is a continuum of fragmentary thoughts that jump from one instrument to another. But instead of being disjointed and disorganized, it is remarkably cohesive and organic in the flow and sequence of the musical ideas.

Harvey Sollberger's "The Advancing Moment" closed out the evening. Scored for the full complement of musicians, the work is uncompromising in its almost unnerving intensity and aggressiveness that at times verges on the brutal.

The music is at times violent, but never gratuitous. It took the musicians (and the audience) on a wild ride. But the players never became bogged down in a quagmire of sounds. Rather, they captured the life force of the piece with their emphatic and ardent playing.


E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com