Chameleon Arts Ensemble has well earned its name. Performing Saturday night on the low stage of First Church in Boston, the versatile and ambitious group put the audience eye-to-eye and ear-to- ear with music of the 20th century inspired by J. S. Bach.
Danish composer Per Norgard’s The Well-Tempered Percussionist, which reworks preludes from The Well-Tempered Clavier, owed the most immediate debt to the Baroque master. Performed by William Manley and Aaron Trant, the sweet tone of the vibraphone juxtaposed agreeably with the more piquant marimba. Re-imagined in percussion colors, the meditative D minor prelude took on a touch of minimalism. The only detraction was the needling ring of the glockenspiel, too shrill for the gray concrete vault of First Church. The Baroque influence was also obvious in Saint-Saens’s Sonata in D Major for oboe and piano; oboist Nancy Dimock and pianist Vivian Choi flashed through breathless passages of counterpoint, impossibly fast but no less precise.