The sixth piece, "The War of the Sexes," is a setting of two songs running at the same time -- "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens" for soprano and "On Top of Old Smoky" for baritone. Each is in its own key and the keys are a half-step apart (on piano play a black-note key and the adjacent white-note key at the same time). The refreshing result, a contrapuntal texture, is something that the composer almost never uses.
"Beulah Land" braced Ann Crumb's singing with atmospheric autoharp-like strums inside the piano. "Old Blue" let Mason weave the light-hearted melody through shifting percussion sounds before the song turned Old-Yeller at the end (the dog dies).
The finale, "Song of the Earth," had striking motifs, taut construction and gorgeous sounds including chime bars and cowbells lowered into a bucket of water to bend their pitches.
Freeman conducted with efficiency and the ensemble played brilliantly.
The concert began with Ann Crumb and pianist Barone performing the composer's "Sun and Shadow (Spanish Songbook II)" (2009), five songs on poems of Garcia Lorca. George Crumb setting whole poems of Garcia Lorca comes as a surprise to those used to the fragments that inspired his early music. Ann Crumb sang with simple directness and warmth (and humor in the buzzing "Fly"). Barone played the richly varied piano part with great insight, abundant color and understated virtuosity.