Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Wednesday night's program in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall might have been titled "Modern Music for People Who Hate Modern Music." Three of the four pieces played were premieres in Washington, and one was also a world premiere.
The composers of all three were present to take well-deserved bows, and Francisco Mignone of Brazil received a standing ovation for his new Guitar Concerto, a tribute that Kennedy Center audiences often give to a singer or pianist but seldom to a mere living composer.
The catalyst for all this enthusiasm was the superb Louisville Orchestra, an ensemble which specializes in modern music and which presents it very persuasively indeed.
As the program showed, this contribution is not limited to performance; the world premier performance on the program was "Dervishes" by the orchestra's principal bassoonist, Dan E. Welcher. Subtitled a "Ritual Dance-Scene for Full Orchestra," the piece has the kind of swirling vitality the name implies; it is superbly orchestrated (with a notable but not overdone part for the bassoons) and it demonstrates conclusively for those who still may doubt it that atonal music can be down-right pretty.
Mignone's concerto uses intricate Brazilian rhythms effectively in a pleasant neo-Romantic style that should win it a place in the repertoire with Rodrigo's popular works for guitar and orchestra.
Priscilla McLean's "Variations and Mosaics on a Theme of Stravinsky" was written over an eight-year period and shows a variety of styles, neo-classical and atonal, but variety is the keynote of its form and the contrasting sections work well together.
The most familiar piece of the program, the thoughtful, intricate "Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4" of Villa-Lobos, brought the program to a triumphant close.