Solo brass quintet, 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), oboe, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling bass clarinet), bassoon, horn, trumpet, bass trombone, percussion (2 players), piano
Commissioned for ALEA III and the Empire Brass Quintet, Chamber Concerto does not follow the traditional three-movement Baroque concerto form, but is instead a set of six variations. It pays homage to the Baroque and Classical styles in its concern for symmetry, traditional chord structures, felt meters, uncluttered textures, and solo instrumental writing that demands virtuosity without recourse to the non-traditional playing techniques and special effects prevalent in much contemporary music.
Perera’s “Chamber Concerto” received its premiere Wednesday night. At 21 minutes it was by far the longest work on the program. It is actually a set of seven variations in which a brass quintet (The Empire) coexists, contentedly and otherwise, with an orchestra of woodwinds and percussion. Perera has an acute ear for sonority. There was a gripping opening dialogue between on and off-stage trumpets, vivid use of various mutes, some stirring bell sounds (Boris Godunov came to mind), wildly swirling wind writing, and floor-shaking bass. Despite a lack of subtlety (at least in this performance), and emphasis on sound per se, Perera’s instantly accessible music compels attention through its sheer visceral impact.
Boston Globe 3/21/84