Friday night's program of "revolutionary" chamber music at Butler's new Schrott Center, part of the opening weekend of ArtsFest 2013, featured several groups and configurations, kicking off with the Indianapolis Saxophone Quartet's performance Russell Peck's Drastic Measures. The ensemble had a well blended sounded, and showed themselves at ease with both the lyrical, expressive first movement, and the rhythmically complex, energetic second movement.
Violinist Larry Shapiro's reading of Beethoven's Violin Sonata no. 9, the "Kreutzer" sonata, didn't fare as well, being marred by frequent intonation issues and a pusillanimous tone. Pianist Catherine Bringerud's nuanced playing was the highlight of that work.
Moving on, George Crumb's Frederico's Little Songs for Children was nothing short of fantastic. Soprano Kathleen Hacker has a voice well suited to contemporary music, and together with flautist Anne Reynolds and harpist Wendy Muston, they were a potent ensemble, doing Crumb's complex music much justice.
Jon Crabiel performed the penultimate work of the night, Nebojsa Jovan Zivkovic's To the Gods of Rhythm, for djembe and voice. Crabiel owned this tribal-sounding, primal work comprised of singing and drumming simultaneously, handling both voice and drums with conviction.
The evening rounded out on another high point with tenor Thomas Studebaker singing one of the first known song cycles, Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte ("To the Distant Beloved"). His rich and warm sound matched well with pianist Anna Briscoe.