Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Gunther Schuller is in charge of things this week in the National Symphony's Kennedy Center concerts, not only as guest conductor, but also as composer.
It was in the second role that he won the longest and most hearty applause of the evening Tuesday night after he finished a marvelous, probing performance of his own Studies on Themes of Paul Klee. There is a special touch of graciousness in the presence of this music on the program, since it is dedicated to Antal Doratt, who gave its first performance in Minneapolis 18 years ago.
If you know your Phillips Collection well, you know the wit and texture of the Klee paintings there, some of which are among those Schuller used as inspiration for his music.
With fastidious care, Schuller has captured the feeling of Klee through orchestral sounds of almost micro scopic perceptions. When Klee twitters, so does Schuller; when an Arab village is called for an offstage flute is answered by a small onstage ensemble, whose players tune their instruments just off the pitch to heighten the fun. Since Schuller is conducting the concert here through Friday you have time to go hear it.
Eugene Istomin is soloist in the F Minor Concerto of Chopin to which he and Schuller gave a reading that matched poetic license with fine sweeping phrases.
Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave and Ravels's Rapsodie Espagnole framed Chopin and Schuller.