For almost three decades the Contemporary Chamber Players have served up cornucopias of new works that are, for the most part, worthy of first hearings. The programming, to be sure, reflects the taste of founder and director Ralph Shapey, who tends to favor academic colleagues and disciples with a neo-romantic and abstract expressionist bent. This season opener is a telling example. Each of the four movements of the jazzy Transformational Etudes by New York’s Edward Smaldone is inspired by “semi-abstract” canvases. The texts to DePaul alum Irwin Bazelon’s ardent and plaintive song cycle, Legend and Love Letters are five imagist poems by Hart Crane. Edwin Dugger’s 1991 Two Rhapsodies for chamber ensemble, as the name suggests, are impetuous yet lyrical. Balanced against these 80s idioms are intriguing representatives of the last gasps of atonalism, that older vanguard tradition: Richard Wernick’s Cadenzas and Variations no. 2 from 1970 and Schoenberg’s 1949 Phantasy for violin and piano, his last instrumental composition. Featured performers include soprano Diane Ragains, violinist Sharon Polifrone, and pianist Abraham Stokman. Composers Smaldone and Dugger will give a joint lecture before the concert. Sunday, 8 PM, Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St.; 702-8068.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Vaughan.