After two excellent concerts by its faculty members, the Longy School on Friday night turned to music performed by students and alumni. The program's dedication to Professor Archibald T. Davison, President of the Board of Trustees, emphasized once again the close ties binding Longy with Harvard's musical life.
In Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 4, William Bruni indicated the quality of playing that was to fill the evening. Always accurate in pitch and attacks, carefully phrased, his performance grew from its slightly tense opening to a beautifully integrated reading. In the extravagant skips of the slow movement, Mr. Bruni's tone sounded a bit thin, but he managed the final allegro with style and grace.
After Mozart's aerial melodies, the concert came heavily back to earth with Charles Loeffler's Canticle of the Sun. It resembles the sound track of a Disney True Life Adventure. Augmented by two harps, celesta, and piano, the orchestra plays swooping glissandos and tortured Puccini-like harmonies; the soprano soloist must remain throughout in a palpitating ecstasy totally incongruous with St. Francis' humble text. At least Canticle had the benefit of Janet Wheeler's lovely voice and inspired instrumental work under conductor Kalman Novak.
A staging miscalculation in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 placed the harpsichord, with its top open, too far in front of the other soloists. Consequently, Dorothy Bales' violin was rarely audible and Howard Brown's flute tone almost completely lost. Joel Spiegel man played the extremely difficult keyboard part with impeccable technique and phrasing, but the total effect was unfortunately like a harpsichord concerto with occasional phrases for violin and flute.
The jazzy Concertino for Piano and Chamber Orchestra by Walter Piston reached a peak of musical quality, performance, and balance. Unlike many pianists, Robert Freeman did not make a fetish of hard-driving rhythms. Instead, he imparted a lyrical feeling to even the bounciest passages which toned down the score's over-hectic elements and gave the listeners a sense of proportion that otherwise might have been lacking.
Mr. Freeman and the other soloists did more than merely meet the precedent their teachers had set in previous concerts. They exemplified those standards of first-rate artistic instruction that have made the Longy School a renowned center of musical education.