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Collage works its magic

Grammy-nominated Collage New Music came up with a winner Monday night in Gunther Schuller's 1991 ''Paradigm Exchanges."

This 25-minute, 14-movement suite is a knockout. It is formidably organized both in technique and in structure. Nearly every movement brings a fresh combination of timbres, and each instrument has a major solo. But the effect is of complete spontaneity. The new wine of contemporary expression goes into the old bottles of familiar forms (''Courante," ''Passacaglia"), but those forms are renewed by what Schuller has poured into them. And the performance by Collage virtuosos under David Hoose's assured direction was superb: flutist Christopher Krueger, clarinetist Robert Annis, pianist Christopher Oldfather, cellist Joel Moerschel, and violinist Daniel Stepner.

The 21st-century work on the program was by Eugene Birman, a young Russian-born composer. His piano trio ''Rhapsodie" is an attractive post-Romantic work modeled on the form, if not the style, of a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody.

The rest of the program offered opportunities to renew acquaintance with earlier works by three Boston composers. Marti Epstein's ''Private Fantasy Booth" is minimalistic in that it implies far more than it states. David Rakowski's ''Dances in the Dark," drawn from a ballet for children, is accessible, energetic, and dodgy. The centerpiece of Peter Child's ''Tableaux I" is an eloquent ''Elegy -- in Time of War" flanked by two entertaining movements, ''Flight" (an ascending scale takes wing) and ''Diddle-ee dee," a jazzy finale that ends with the performers scat singing. Charismatic young percussionist Sam Solomon seized his moment in the Child, and made the most of it. The musicians responded to the enthusiastic applause by reprising ''Diddle-ee dee."

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