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Dido and Aeneas

By Herbert P. Gleason

Charles Munch made his debut as permanent conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra this weekend, and effectively demolished the illusions of certain musical cynics who held Koussevitzky and the B. S. O. synonomous, and claimed neither could exist without the other.

The opening concert was almost more a tribute to the Orchestra than it was to Munch. It proved beyond question that the Boston Symphony Orchestra lies gleaming in its case like a fine musical instrument, ready to sing in the hands of any great virtuoso. It passes from Koussevitzky to Munch, each with a technique of his own; yet the latent quality of the instrument remains unchanged.

In plain talk, this means the 110-odd men of the Orchestra have been able to shake off 25 years of routine in a little over three weeks, and adapt themselves to a new and different-regime. This was especially evident in the excerpts from Schubert's "Rosamunde," which was played with a gentleness and simplicity seldom heard under Koussevitzky. Even the standard Beethoven's "Fifth" sounded almost like a first performance.

Munch seems to take considerable liberties with his classical music. Long dramatic pauses, and abrupt changes in tempo sound a mite strange. In the third movement of the Beethoven, there were moments of uncertainty in the Orchestra, signs of the difficult change of interpretation. But it is nothing serious, and Munch's first concert indicates that Symphony Hall is going to be rocked back on its heels in the weeks to come.

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