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Ozawa's New World demands your attention

Conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
Dvorak's New World Symphony.
Haydn's Symphony No. 86.
Symphony Hall, Feb. 20 at 8 p.m.,
Feb. 21 at 2 p.m., and Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.

By Jonathan Richmond

Advisory Board

Despite all the calls for adventurous programming, there's always a place for a concert without X-rated items, and this weekend's offering from the BSO offers pure pleasure and relaxation. The main item is Dvorak's New World Symphony, and Ozawa does it very well indeed.

Of course, there's nothing quite like listening to the New World sprawled across the grass at Tanglewood under a starlit sky. But Ozawa's Symphony Hall rendition also brought out the melodies, the romance, and the earthiness of a piece audiences will never stop loving.

: the BSO's alert and lively playing gripped one's attention. Strings attacked with majestic, flowing sweeps, while winds plied their art of seduction on the ears with gentle subtlety, and brass produced waves of excitement.

The second movement -- suggested by the arboreal funeral of Minnehaha from The Song of Hiawatha -- was done with a wistful beauty. The orchestra's dreamy, quiet playing also suggested wonder upon arrival in a new-found land. The work was concluded with high spirits, making it definitely worth a spot on your weekend agenda.

The concert also included Haydn's Symphony No. 86. Several passages were played felicitously, and the work's wit shone through, at least partially. The BSO was a bit plodding at times, however: Ozawa needs to inject a more lightly-sprung touch into his Haydn.