Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Klaus Tennstedt is a new name to National Symphony subscribers, as indeed he is to all in this country except the audiences of Boston, Minneapolis and San Francisco, where he has been heard within the past two years.
The music director of the Kiel Opera in Germany, Tennstedt, a man in his early 50s made a powerful impression Tuesday night in the Kenndy Center from the opening moments of Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto. Horacio Gutierrez from Cuba, more recently from Los Angeles, was the soloist. The instant the music began, the two men were at work with a remarkable unity of purpose, to create one of the tremendous performances of many seasons.
Rather shockingly, this concerto had not been played previously by the National Symphony. It is music filled with an unrelenting energy that pours out as strongly in the quietest passages as in the most turbulent.
Gutierrez, who has been here before, is a giant of the piano. He produces an immense sound with no hint of pounding, easily dominating the orchestra even in its largest moments. Yet in fleet scales, his soft playing had a feathered quality with a magical effect. There is a grand cadenza, in which Gutierrez turned in a torrential solo performance. Yet in all that he did there was the authority as control of the true musician.
In full partnership at every point, Tennstedt led the orchestra with whiplash precision, so that the rhythmic and ensemble hazards of the concerto were nbrilliantly in hand on all sides. For the orchestra's foirst playing of the trickly music, it was as impressive as had it been the 12th or the 20th.
The Bruckner Fourth Symphony filled the second half of teh concert as the concerto had the first, But the two works accupy different worlds.no Bruckner symphony lacks genius, but the genius of the Austrian took lots of time before it reached the lofty eminence upon which the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth symphonies rest.
In the Fourth are the pages of lyric beauty that always turn up in Bruckner. There are also naive pages of receptitive rhetoric that become tiresome before the composer stops worrying it. Tennstedt did what can be done to keep the work moving, though never making the mistake of trying to hurry a composer who will not be hurried.