Last evening the fifth in the current series of concerts by the Boston Symphony conducted by Serge Koussevitsky was held at Sanders Theatre. The program, exceptionally well balanced, resulted, in an exceedingly satisfactory and entertaining evening for the large audience present. It will probably remain as one of the highlights of the season.
The first selection, Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony, was done to perfection. For some strange reason, Dr. Koussevitsky seems to have more or less steered clear of the lighter classical and early romantic composers in most of his programs at Symphony Hall this season. Last night he made up for it with a vengeance. Music of this type must be played cleanly, faultlessly, spiritedly to give the right effect; it is polished, sophisticated music, and needs a polished, sophisticated performance. Dr. Koussevitsky knew the effects he wanted, and got them. In particular, th second and last movements stood out. In the former, the playing was perfect, so much so that it sounded as if one violin, not the entire large string section of a symphony orchestra was playing.
Directly following this, Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloc" Ballet was heard. The music, full of "poetic imagination," instrumental color, exceedingly clever orchestration, was competently enough performed. But perhaps it was not up to the rest of the program in some ways. The dynamics were good, but at times overdone. The effect was complete, but at the same time there were too many breaks, the continuity not always intact.
The choice of the Shostakovitch Symphony No.6 was a good one with which to round out a well selected group. The quality of the music, unlike the late 7th, is unquestionable. The musical world, after receiving the 5th, was well prepared for this symphony, and it has made a sound impression wherever and whenever it has been performed. Dr. Koussevitsky is one of the leading champions and interpreters of modern Russian music in this country, and last night one might have thought that the Shostakovitch 6th had been dedicated to him. The orchestra was controlled perfectly, and performed like a well organized, well rehearsed machine. The spirit of the music was caught at the first bar, and held to the final chord. A prayer is being offered from this quarter that a recording by Dr. Koussevitsky and his orchestra be made soon to take its rightful place next to the one made some time ago by Leopold Stokowski.
But all programs of the Boston Symphony have not been as well received as this. One can well wonder why so fine an all-around conductor as Dr. Koussevitsky attempts so much modern music of such questionable quality as has filled the programs of Saturday night concerts this season. In spite of earnest efforts by Dr. Konssevitsky on be half of this generation of composers and what-nots, ticket holders at symphony Hall would give a warm welcome to more programs of the type given last night.