Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Just how pervasive Aaron Copland's influence has been on American composers of this century was evident from the first two pieces on the program at the National Gallery Sunday night. The Gallery's orchestra, with Richard Bales on the podium, kicked off this year's American Music Festival (the 94th, by the Symphony No. 1 by Robert Washburn and "Pioneer Dances" by Peggy Stuart Coolidge. It was the first Washington performance of both these works.
These pieces are two chips off the same block, as block that might best be described as familiar folk Americana. Their idiom is straight out of Copland; brilliant orchestration, slightly modal harmonies and rhythmic insistence.
In Washington's case, his three movement symphony, with its American gothic counterpoint, seems to go the route inspired by movie scores. It is attractive and easy to listen to.
Coolidge's "Pioneer Dances" - a rollicking stomp, a quiet, dreamy piece, and a fiddle tune ' are spirited, nicely worked out pieces.
The dances and the symphony were a lot alike, however, and might have made more individual effects had they been on different programs.
Hovhaness' Symphony No. 26, the "Consolation," continues a formula he has reworked so prolifically. It is a turgid work that dwells, unprofitably, on repetition, but the orchestra played it well. In fact the orchestra played splendidly throughout the concert, with a high degree of unaminity among the some real virtuoso playing in the winds.