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MIT Symphony hesitates briefly but ends triumphantly


Conducted by Dieter-Gerhardt Worm.

With piano soloist Jee-Lian Yap '90.

Program of works by Mendelssohn,

Prokofiev and Brahms.

Kresge Auditorium, Saturday, March 10.


GUEST CONDUCTOR Dieter-Gerhardt Worm led the MIT Symphony Orchestra on Saturday evening in an enjoyable program of Mendelssohn, Prokofiev, and Brahms. He brought boldness and vigor to the forte sections of the romantic pieces, while in the lyrical sections his pace was sometimes ponderous.

The program opened with Felix Mendelssohn's Overture to Heimkehr aus dem Fremde. Its flowing beginning made for a delightful and relaxing introduction to the evening. As the pace quickened, the strings increasingly dominated to give glimpses of a rural atmosphere, with one cello passage reminiscent of a theme from Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony. A spinning, lively, rustic dance gave way at the end to a well-paced lyrical conclusion.

The Piano Concerto No. 1 in D-flat Major, Op. 10, by Sergei Prokofiev, with its contrasting musical flavors, found an enjoyable unity. The soloist, Jee-Lian Yap '90, gave a firm performance, but the acoustics of Kresge Auditorium took the edge off what should have been a brilliant and crisp piano part. However, within this rhapsodic early Prokofiev piece she contrasted well the light, frivolous air of some sections with the boldness and menace of others.

A sluggishly paced brass section midway through the piece gave way to a march which could well have been the theme music to the Russian revolution. The strings brought an air of mystery, calling to mind Holst's Neptune, and the final reprise of the theme was powerful and impressive.

An unfortunately hesitant start to Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73, by Johannes Brahms, spoiled the lyricism of early parts of the first movement, with horns rather uneven. At times the orchestral balance was distracting, with cellos and double basses inappropriately loud at one point. However, in the second movement confidence seemed to be coming back, although the tempo was perhaps a little too slow.

The third movement (Allegretto grazioso) was indeed sprightly, and the strings, flute, and oboe especially helped give us a glimpse of the countryside. At the beginning of the fourth movement Worm almost jumped from his conductor's stand as he gestured to quicken the pace and enliven the atmosphere. The orchestra responded splendidly, with the performance now dashing and spirited. We were treated to the sonorous lyricism which should have been there from the start, flowing into a triumphant close to the movement and the concert.