Richard Burgin, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster, conducted the Orchestra night before last at the opening concert of the 1948-49 series. While Mr. Burgin is not an unusually gifted conductor in his own right, his long association with the Boston Symphony has made him entirely capable of taking over the Orchestra in Dr. Koussevitzky's absence. Mr. Burgin showed excellent taste in choosing a program: the concert opened with Brahms' often-played Third Symphony, continued with the never-played Adagio from Bruckner's String Quintet, and finished with a suite from "The Fairy Tale of Tsar Saltan" by Rimsky-Korsakov.
I am amazed that the Bruckner Quintet is not heard more often; the Adagio is one of the most beautiful of its kind, and Tuesday's performance brought out its every shade. Granted that chamber music sounds differently played by a full orchestra, still it was a novel experience to hear Bruckner's Adagio done by one of the finest string sections anywhere.
Rimsky-Korsakov took the material for his opera "Tsar Saltan" from a poem by Pushkin, and later drew from the score a set of musical pictures. Tuesday's program included three--the well-known March, the Introduction to Act II, and the Three Wonders. It is truly "picture music" of the light sort which lends so well to the Boston Symphony's precise and colorful execution. As for the Brahms, little can be said. Like all good Symphony players, the men of the Boston Symphony have played the familiar classics so often that they automatically give each part exactly the right touch for a faultless performance.