"A 20th century sampler" - Vic Hoyland is completely open about the ancestry of his The Attraction of Opposites. This candour colours every bar of the piece, a three-movement sonata for piano duet whose premiere - given by the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo - was in every sense the climax of this recital.
Hoyland admits his debt to a whole pantheon of modern masters. But what begins as a game of spot-the-influence - a Bartok ostinato here, a burst of Messiaen birdsong there - acquires a much stronger sense of purpose,
as Hoyland expands his material into ever more imposing forms. This is music of big sonorities, confident gestures and powerful invention.
Helen Bugallo and Amy Williams tackled it with total conviction and a seemingly limitless tonal palette. Whether clattering like xylophones, exchanging muted chords or rising to the brilliant coup-de-theatre with which Hoyland closes his first movement, they gave what must have been the premiere of any composer's dreams.
Hoyland's work dominated the evening. That wasn't so surprising after five Player Piano Studies by Conlon Nancarrow, played with breathtaking ensemble. The duo's empathy was tangible, and drew a
delighted response from the audience at the one point - in the habanera-like Sixth Study - where Nancarrow briefly drops the machine act and lets his notes smile.
But it's a rather more impressive achievement on the same bill as Igor Stravinsky. Admittedly, Stravinsky's Movements are intractable even in their more usual scoring for piano and orchestra; here, all the clarity and intelligence of Bugallo and Williams' playing couldn't save them. Or prevent Dumbarton Oaks from emerging as a charmless exercise in texture and rhythm.
Without his orchestral clothes, Emperor Igor really isn't a very pretty sight.