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The concert by the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra last Sunday was a welcome change. For the first time, conductor Russell Stanger chose a program that responds favorably to a non-professional performance. This is an effective compromise between the Stephen Foster Johann Strauss child's play that most college orchestras play, and the prohibitively-difficult works that the H.R.O. has attempted in the past.
The program opened with Bechoven's Second Symphony-aside from the poor horn playing, a through satisfying rendition. The orchestra achieved dynamic contrasts, and the whole performance was well-disciplined, without being stiff.
Pianist Judith Yaeger, winner of the Pierian Sodality's annual concerto contest, soloed in the Schumann Concerto. The Radcliffe Senior started shakily, but after she regained her composure in the middle of the first movement, she made the old warhorse kick its heels. Purists may object to the more liberties she took with the score; but after hearing her coquettish interpretation of the second movement, I cast my vote for impurity.
David Diamond's Fourth Symphony received its first local hearing. It seemed to be a haphazard series of contrasts between loud and soft, fast and slow, brass and strings. I could detect no unity, form, or logical direction. Perhaps I am wrong; I hope so. The orchestra gave what sounded like a polished, authoritative presentation. The lower strings, rich and solid, have never sounded better.
While the Diamond music is occasionally exciting despite its lack of form, Handel's Fourth Concerto Grosso is a piece of soprific craftsmanship. Superficially similar to the Bach Bradenburg Council, it has none of their vitality and immediacy. The orchestra gave it a brisk, smooth run-through.
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