Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
John Mauceri brought wonderful music for his Kennedy Center debut with the National Symphony Tuesday night. The gifted young American conductor had the good fortune to share the program with guest pianist Alicia de Larrocha, a dividend any conductor would welcome.
Prior to the Mozart A Major Concerto they shared, Mauceri led the orchestra in a meticulously worked out account of the "Rienzi" Overture of Wagner. The concerto is one of the more intimate entries in the grand list of Mozart's works in this form. De Larrocha and Mauceri gave it exquisite form and sound. Her phrasing was impeccable, her tone a thing to marvel at, and the conductor led the orchestra in playing that matched her at every point.
After intermission, Mauceri conducted music by Ives with which he has had a unique, personal acquaintance. It was the full and final version of "Three Places in New England," of which Mauceri gave the first performance in 1974 at Yale University. This music held its own brand of mesmerism for many years in the compromise version then available. But there is no comparison between that and the lustrous sounds that fill the composer's far more mature ideas of the work.
The orchestra responded to Mauceri's revealing leadership in a way that brought out every nuance of sound, except in those places where Ives purposely mixed them all up in a glorious jumble. No other music seems quite so deeplyto recall days and events for which we will be giving thanks today. It was grand music, wonderfully conducted.
The final work of the evening was Debussy's "La Mer." Much of the time it was resplendent in sound, its rhythmic and dynamic nuances handsomely controlled. The final two parts were especially well done on all counts. The opening section came on a bit abruptly, lacking certain, of the infinitesimal pauses that create so rare a feeling of suspense.
An earlier touch here and there of the poetry he handles so well later on will make Mauceri's reading notable. The concert will be repeated Friday night.