Munuhin mixed; Stern goodRoyal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yehudi Menuhin, Symphony Hall, March 1; Isaac Stern, Symphony Hall, March 3; The Erdely Duo, Kresge Auditorium, March 3.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's Boston concert was of mixed quality. The first piece, Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man was troubled by an uneasy forcefulness bereft of elegance. Copland's Quiet City for Trumpet, English Horn and String Orchestra was more relaxed, though, and given a gentle, thoughtful performance.
Andr'e Watts provided a probing account of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2. In the first movement he showed his capacity for a lightness of touch but depth of insight. The strings were at their best at their softest; at times, though, they were coarse and too methodical.
The Adagio showed Watts at his most subtle; at times, here, orchestral accompaniment was most effective too. One lingered, for example, on the sympathetic power of quietly-plucked strings as the pianist, seemingly lost to reality, wandered, as if alone, above the line of the accompaniment. One could hear the silences surrounding each note, and they were haunting.
Watts produced a dashing conclusion to the piece; the increasing rhythmic drive of the piano was exciting. The orchestra lapsed into wooliness, though, its muddled dynamic disappointing.
The first two movements of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, Path'etique were given a mundane treatment, but the orchestra woke up to provide a dynamite Allegro molto vivace of frenetic drive and beautiful balance. And the finale, Adagio lamentoso; Andante, was played with sensitivity, the tragedy of the music brought to the fore. Tho terrific encores ended the evening.
Isaac Stern was in good form for his Symphony Hall recital on Sunday. In the first half, the tempo di menuetto of Mozart's Sonata in E minor, K. 304, was particularly enjoyable, the gossamer airiness of Stern's violin met by the simple but passionate piano playing of Paul Ostrovsky.
Bach's Partita No. 1 in B minor for solo violin, BWV 1002, was played with more than mere aesthetic: Stern wove complexities adding meaning at every twist, gripping variations in texture, in emphasis, in mood, underlying a tenacious hold on continuity. An intense performance, then, one as full of humanity as of intellect.
In the second half, the sharp East European tunes of Four Romanian Dances by Bartok were played with a melifluousness which endowed them with romance. Szymanowski's La Fontaine d'Arethuse, Op. 30, No. 1 from "Mythes," played with much control, was also most effective, and the increasingly wasp-like resonance of Ravel's Perpetuum mobile brought the official program to a smashing conclusion. Wild ovations elicited two fiery dances from Falla's Suite Populaire Espa~nol and a stylishly played Haydn adagio.
Stephen and Beatrice Erdelys have a capacity for fluency and clarity. At times one suspected that their reading of Beethoven's Sonata in A minor, Op. 23, was not the deepest of readings, but there was plenty of interest to the second movement, and lively playing for the finale. The relationship between piano and violin was especially well developed in Schumann's Sonata in A minor, Op. 105 with many pleasurable little touches, while Brahms Sonata in G, Op. 78, ended the evening with more than enough insight to put the Erdely Duo above mere technique