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The Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, conducted by Attilio Poto, gave its best concert of the season Friday night in Sanders Theatre. The group played with more spirit and cohesion, and was in better tune than usual.
Haydn's Symphony in C Minor (Le Midi) began the program. This work, one of the less-often heard of Haydn's symphonies, has an unusual musical structure--one of the movements is marked "recitative," and consists of a dialogue between solo violin and orchestra. There is also an extended duet for solo violin and 'cello, during which the other instruments remain silent. Concertmaster Daniel Musher and 'cellist Sigrid Lemlein played these passages adequately, althought Musher's intonation was sometimes weak and his phrasing lacked clear articulation. Miss Lemlein drew a warm, full tone from her 'cello. The last movement has the jollity and bad-image typical of Haydn's finales, and the orchestra communicated this spirit well.
Sheldon Lubow, a pupil of Claudio Arrau, and a winner of the Pierian Sodality Concerto Contest, was soloist in the next work, Liszt's Piano Concerto in E. With his big tone and sure technique, Lubow was in full control of the brilliant Liszt idiom. Fortissimo octaves boomed and cadenzas scintillated with the appropriate spice and dash. Lubow has one disturbing mannerism, however--he will linger on an appogiatura until the suspense becomes unbearable and the note of resolution is given up forever as lost. The orchestra, which seemed to revel in the bacchanalian decadance of the music, gave the pianist all the support he needed.
The heavily romantic Symphony in B minor by Borodin, whose musical expression is starker and more rough-hewn than Liszt's, but similar in its unrestrained and often pompous emotionality, was sympathetically interpreted by the orchestra. Borodin often employs thick brass and woodwind textures in his scores, and the playing of these sections was particularly good. The objectionable thing here is the music itself, specifically the first movement, which is little more than the reiteration, ad nauseam, of a single motive. The rest of the symphony, although often cumbersome and awkward, is better.
The Liszt of the Piano Concerti and Borodin may as well be heard once in a while though. It is entertaining, if not profound, music; and the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra has shown that it can do some very entertaining playing. If they continue to play with as much energy and idiomatic sympathy as they did Friday night, no one will complain of a lack of intonation, or an occassional misentry.
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