Composer Nick DiBerardino, whose “27 Morningside” won the Portland Chamber Music Festival’s 2013 International Composers Competition, was in good company Saturday night, sandwiched between a new arrangement of Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite” and a superlative performance of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” by festival musicians at the University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Community Education Center.

DiBerardino’s “27 Morningside,” which the composer suggests is a kind of ode to home, did not suffer very much by comparison. In it, DeBarardino (b. 1989) demonstrates a first-rate talent and a unique voice at a young age.

He uses the piano as a percussion instrument, but also makes the strings — cello and violin — imitate its voice before the introductory fragments coalesce into surprisingly harmonious melody. I don’t know what the home at 27 Morningside was like, but its subterranean grumblings and knockings reminded me of the mansion in “Home Alone.”

The composer also has a flair for using rhythm and pauses to build excitement. The ending was spectacular but must have been a nightmare for the players to count.

The program opened with the “Mother Goose Suite” in an arrangement by Roland Kato for piano, violin, viola, cello and bass. The combination is halfway between the piano and orchestral versions, and gives clarity to the melodic lines, without the heaviness of the orchestral version. The bass, played by David Allen Moore, was perfect for characterizing the beast in the “Beauty and the Beast” movement.

Downplaying the triumphal cadences at the end of “The Fairy Garden” was disappointing but almost made up for by the pianistic fireworks of Rieko Aizawa.

The jewel of the evening was that old chestnut, Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” made totally new and fresh in spite of competing fireworks at Hadlock Field. The small string orchestra, with harpsichord continuo by Peter Sykes, demonstrated ample power when necessary and carried delicate pianissimo passages that would have remained unheard on a recording. It also provided precise entrances and instantaneous dynamic changes.

What really made the difference, however, was the virtuoso violin playing of Frank Huang. Conductors often forget that the “Seasons” comprise four violin concertos of considerable difficulty, not merely tone paintings of atmospheric phenomena.

Treating the concertos as the display pieces that they are gave an unusual excitement to the performance.

One could have asked for more volume in the harpsichord part, but that is totally due to the instrument, which plays at the same volume no matter how the keys are struck.

It did not detract from the performance, and when the harpsichord was allowed to speak, in the adagio molto of Concerto No. 3, the effect was magical.

The Portland Chamber Music Festival continues on Thursday, Aug. 15, and Saturday, Aug. 17.

Christopher Hyde’s Classical Beat column appears in the Maine Sunday Telegram. He can be reached at:

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