Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
There was a reception of exceptional, spontaneous warmth awaiting Antal Dorati when he came onto the stage of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall Tuesday night to lead the National Symphony Orchestra.
Appearing for the first time as the orchestra's Principal Guest Conductor, Dorati was greeted by an audience that rose to its feet the instant he reached the podium, an action in which the members of the orchestra immediately joined. There was a tangible feeling that Dorati had returned home, and in a very real sense he had, to the hall that he made the home of orchestral music here during its first six years of existence.
Now the music director of the Detroit Symphony, Dorati is here at the moment for this week only, but he will be back for a number of weeks late in the spring. For his program Tuesday Dorati turned to the most favorite trio of Bs in the composers' catalog: Bach, Brahms and Beethoven. The Eroica Symphony by the last of these was an audible evidence of the Beethoven Festival with which Dorati has just finished his first weeks in Detroit, a festival that played to sold-out houses, and which was from all accounts, a notable success.
The Bach was the spirited opening movement, in this case called a sonata, to Cantata No. 31. Its scoring, with trumpets, timpani, oboes and bassoon, in addition on to strings, harpsichord and organ, makes it among Bach's most gala writings.
For the occassion, a handsome portative organ was added to the customary instruments. Since it was played by James Weaver of the Smithsonian, it came, presumably, from that institution's distinguished collection of baroque organs.
The playing was as brilliant as the music calls for, which is to say some of the most elegantly animated of the entire Bach era.
The Third Symphony of Brahms achieved a high luster, both in playing and conducting. Dorali searches out the spirit of Brahms without resorting to any means not indicated in the score. He takes a somewhat leisurely pace in the middle movements, but both the opening and closing movements, went with fine emotion.
The finale, especially, profited from the strong feeling of menace that appeared with the first forte. The orchestra was in good form. The orchestra was in good form, though there were times when chords were not attacked with an ideal unison.
At the end of the Brahms, there was a further demonstration of appreciation for Dorati's return, when the orchestra players refused to stand and join with him in the applause, but, remaining seated, added their approval to that of the audience. It is a pleasure to see Dorati once again in charge of the National Symphony.